• Anti-workfare protest outside North London Hospice shop

    Anti-workfare protest at North London HospicePickets, protests, and online pressure are meeting each organisation that is found participating in the government's latest and longest workfare scheme - Community Work(fare) Placements.

    On Saturday morning, 16 August, Haringey Solidarity Group held a picket outside North London Hospice charity shop on Wood Green High Road (near Turnpike Lane) about their involvement with the six-month long, forced labour scheme. The picket attracted lots of interest and support from passersby, with some saying they would no longer shop there and others saying that they would contact the hospice to let them know about their concerns.

    We have spoken to at least two people on Community Work Placements at this shop, and others at the shop near Wood Green tube. 

    You can find more details about how to get in touch with North London Hospice in our article here.

  • Community Work Placements in Haringey - who's proud to be working with G4S?

    No Benefit Sanctions, No WorkfareWhile the government would like to keep their names secret, the companies involved with running the recently launched Community Work Placements seem proud to publicise their involvement.

    G4S won the contract for six regions across the country and was "delighted" to announce its involvement with the schemewhich consists of six-month, forced, unpaid work placements for unemployed people.  (The placements need local council and charity participation in order to claim to be of “community benefit”.)

    But, being as they are the world's largest security company, G4S isn't bothering itself with the day-to-day business of sorting out placements for workfare conscripts. Instead, they have teamed up with "top-performing placement brokers" in the six regions for which it has a CWP contract. One of these regions is West London.  This is the one that covers Haringey and, of the five partners it has here, only one, Urban Futures, appears to have an office in Haringey. They have expressed similar delight at their involvement with the government's newest forced labour scheme.

    We have tried to figure out exactly what Urban Futures do, but their website, with all its talk of employment, training and apprenticeships, manages to hide the fact that they are fully signed up to a programme that threatens some of the most vulnerable people in our community with destitution and abject poverty.

    Urban Futures may or may not be a lost cause, but we want to find out the names of the local charities and community organisations that they are using to fulfil their part of the CWP contract.

    We have been talking to the people going in and out of Urban Futures' Wood Green offices. So far, the only confirmed partner is North London Hospice. According to personal testimonies, they have taken on a number of workfare conscripts in their Wood Green shop, and possibly others.  

    Many of us in HSG were really disappointed to hear about this. North London Hospice provides a service which places value on the quality of life of local people. Its complicity in this workfare scheme seems totally at odds with its main aims.

  • Short film: 'Community Work Placements': exploiting the unemployed

    'MAKING WORK PAY' is a hypocritical euphemism used by Iain Duncan Smith and the government to justify cuts in welfare benefit payments and make claiming increasingly difficult. With this completely false statement comes no assurance or intent to increase and legally enforce a minimum wage significantly, in line with the massively inflated costs of rent, food, utilities and travel.

    Community Work Placements actually undermine job security and the minimum wage. They do not create jobs, they create an excuse for less scrupulous employers to take on free labour and get paid by the Government (tax payer) for doing so. Along with this the increase of zero-hours jobs means the job market has become extremely precarious for many.

    You can see other films on similar issues on YouTube.

  • Stop Workfare: Picket & occupation of North London Hospice

    photo of protestors inside nlh shop - banner "workfare exploiter"Last Sunday, 7th June 2015, about 10 of us met at North London Hospice in Turnpike Lane, to picket the shop in our ongoing campaign against Workfare and Community Work Placements - the use of unpaid and forced labour (see Boycott Workfare web site). We fully support the work North London Hospice are doing, but are trying to persuade them not to replace genuine volunteers with people on benefits who risk loosing benefits through sanctions if they do not put in 30 hours unpaid labour a week at their shops. (For more info, see our article 'Why North London Hospice should keep its word and pull out of workfare').

    To increase the pressure on NLH, as well as our usual picket outside the shop, this Sunday, 6 of us also went into the shop with a banner and leaflets, to inform customers of the campaign to keep volunteering voluntary. Others talked to people who were coming in to shop, most of whom changed their mind after a brief chat.

    The manager asked us to leave, saying we could not demonstrate inside the shop, only outside. When we stood firm she said she would call the police. Meanwhile we chatted to the guy at the till, he did not say if he was a genuine volunteer or workfare victim, but he seemed sympathetic to our point of view. The manager told us it was useless occupying the shop, the real managers weren't there - they were in downing street, that is where we should demonstrate. She would not let us take film or photos inside the shop. She was firm but not aggressive.

    After some 20 minutes, two boys in blue turned up. They asked the manager to ask us to leave, which she did, they then told us that we would be committing the crime of trespass if we did not leave, we did so calmly. Outside the police asked to talk to our leader, we explained we were a collective with no leader. We refused to give them our names, contact details, or the name of any organisation we might belong to. They explained if we went back into the shop we were to leave immediately if asked to by the manager or we would be committing trespass, this would be true the following day as well.

    We continued our picket outside the shop for a further 30 or 40 minutes. It was a lovely early summer sunny day, Wood Green High Road was busy, many people took leaflets, and some stopped to chat and even to share their own experiences of the dole.

    We will keep up the pressure on NLH: the best way to beat Workfare is if no organisation is willing to take part in the scheme  - as many have already pledged (see kvv.net)


  • Video: Urban Futures occupied - six-month workfare no way!

    Reel News footage of our Urban Futures occupation as part of the Boycott Workfare week of action against workfare. 

  • Workfare: challenging Urban Futures in Ilford

    A couple of us from Haringey took a trip to the Urban Futures office in Ilford this morning. We were there to protest the use of the Community Work Program, talk to anyone attending Urban Futures who maybe on the scheme and to inform local people as to why we were there.