Last Friday was May Day, and as working class agitators we wanted to celebrate it with some action. Having dedicated much of our time to the Bookfair, Anti-Election Campaigning, SolNet, workplace organising, and producing Organise!84 we didn’t have quite as much time to plan and mobilise as in 2012/13. A call out for a week of action against workfare made it easy to choose what to do though. Afterall the DWP listed us as a threat to the workfare scheme – and we want to disappoint our fans. Continue reading
On Saturday 13th of December, a group of spirited anarchists and other rebellious pixies, donned Christmas hats and Santa beards. Armed with several hundred leaflets, several dozen mince pies, and a handful of song sheets we set out to inject a bit of anti capitalist rebellion into the heart of the consumer season!
We’d decided that companies exploiting people via the governments ‘workfare’ forced labour schemes were particularly worthy of our scorn at this time of year. We set about demonstrating and partying outside and, despite the protests of a tag along PCSO, inside a number of serial offenders.
One thing is sure, which is that the number of people who are poor remains at record levels. Despite claims of a million new jobs since this Government weren’t elected… Read more on the void
The last week has seen two more victories in the ongoing battle against the governments workfare scheme!
Homebase & Argos (both owned by the ‘Home Retail Group’) have ended their involvement. Homebase was only exposed for using the scheme in April, and originally boasted it was getting them ‘750 hours (work) with no costs’. Turns out there was a cost after all. Bristol Anarchist Federation launched a week of action targeting their online presence and branches of their stores. Along with members of the Solidarity Federation, Boycott Workfare, and thousands of angry folks on twitter/facebook we managed to get their attention.
The big weekend! Homebase have been quiet since Wednesday, when they released a frankly lame statement about maybe suspending further commitment to workfare. They’re probably waiting to see what happens so lets make sure we get their attention.
If you can, get down to a protest, listed on facebook and indymedia (Bristol Bath) or grab a friend, print some of the boycott workfare leaflets and head to your local homebase to talk to staff/customers!
If neither is possible call them on 0845 077 8888 or try 0800 0850565 (always be polite to ppl who work in call centres).
You can also drop them a fax for free using Continue reading
UPDATE: Homebase are feeling the heat, time to turn it up! Bristol Demo This saturday ( Facebook / Indymedia ) Bath on Sunday ( Facebook / Indymedia) and two demos called in London. More in the works… In the mean time keep up the pressure online!
Yesterday, sources including Tom Prides blog, revealed that Homebase had been recruiting unpaid workers via a ‘work experience program’. Even worse they were actually boasting about getting extra hours of work by exploiting job seekers and reducing their ‘payroll costs’. A poster was spotted in a management office asking ‘would 750 hours with no payroll costs benefit your store?‘. Few companies are this brutally honest about their motivations!
Our first response was to ‘politely contact’ homebase online, and we were far from the only ones. Angry comments on twitter & facebook were popping up faster than they could delete them. They managed to remove ours, only for a many of our facebook friends to repost it. All these responses seemed to worry the management at Homebase and they quickly put out a couple of rushed statements including:
‘[..] The company has not signed up to the workfare programme, but, on occasions, works with local organisations to help unemployed people into the workplace. A number of unemployed people have recently joined our Haringey store through JobCentre Plus in a short, voluntary programme, to gain work experience. They are entirely under no obligation to participate, nor will non participation affect any benefits. Colleagues at this store also have not been impacted by this programme in any reduction of hours.’ and ‘Some of our best colleagues have joined us having previously been unemployed […]’ Continue reading
Last Saturday over 50 people gatherd in Broadmead for an anti-Workfare demonstration called by ourselves and Bristol Solidarity Federation. Aswell as friends from Bath Anarchists (BARF), the IWW and the Socalist Party there were plenty of new faces we hadn’t seen on previous demos.
Before we had even set off our spirits were lifted by the news that Superdrug had already pulled out of workfare just before the demonstrations set to take place across the country, Result! The first stop on our tour of companies using forced labor under the workfare scheme was Dorothy Perkins in Cabot Circus. Its always good to reclaim spaces like Cabot that are technically no longer public but in the hands of private owners. The security were powerless to stop us due to our weight of numbers, and ability to resist their clever mind tricks such as saying ‘don’t you want to go that way instead?‘. Continue reading
We’ve also put the finishing touches to the update of our earlier workfare leaflet, and it looks pretty damn good printed out (if we do say so ourselves). If you want an early look before they are out on the streets check it out here: combat workfare! Leaflet
As always we recommend you read up on your legal rights before a demonstration, the numbers on these bustcards won’t be used by us tomorrow but the legal info is excellent. We don’t want trouble with the police but sometimes they seem to want trouble with us! There will be atleast one legal observer present to help keep them in line.
Final reminder on the details then: 2pm tomorrow, meeting at castle park bandstand and then heading into broadmead! facebook event is here.
Boycott Workfare have called for a week of action against workfare – the infamous government scheme to force benefit claimants to work for free. It has been shown to be corrupt, expensive, illegal and immoral not to mention useless at finding people jobs. It does help line the pockets of the rich though!Previous actions and public pressure have forced dozens of companies and charities to drop out of the scheme, and its about time those still in it were persuaded to rethink their position.
In Bristol there will be a Demonstration and rolling picket of workfare providers around broadmead on Saturday the 23rd meeting at 2pm at the Castle Park bandstand, everyone who opposes the scheme is welcome. See the facebook event.
Anyone who wants to get creative can join us for banner making, placard painting and last minute scheming on Thursday 21st in the Art Room at Kebele Social centre in Easton from 7pm! We have lots of paints and materials but bring some of your own if you can do!
All week there are online blockades of charities using the scheme, see the boycott workfare website for details! If you’re not going to be in Bristol or Bath this weekend get along to one of the other national actions or call your own!
See you in the Streets!