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Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage. We are a grassroots campaign, formed in 2010 by people with experience of workfare and those concerned about its impact. We expose and take action against companies and organisations profiting from workfare; encourage organisations to pledge to boycott it; and actively inform people of their rights.

A call for organisations to boycott workfare

Posted: February 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Call to action, Charities, Pledge to boycott workfare, Public Sector, Unions | 7 Comments »

As workfare, i.e. compulsory work for benefits, is being rolled-out across the country, we call on public sector bodies, non-profits, trade unions and all other organisations  being offered these placements to join others in signing a pledge to boycott the scheme.

We have knowledge of claimants being inadequately trained for the work they do (particularly health and safety training), working exceedingly long shifts, and bullying in the workplace. Claimants are often not given any choice as to where they work or the sort of work they do.

Workfare placements will not benefit your organisation:

  • Signing the pledge will improve your public image
  • Workfare will create a two tier system in your work places, where people are not treated equal, which is contrary to the council’s equal opportunities policies and the law.
  • Forced volunteers will not have had to the necessary in-house training or other training opportunities
  • Single parents will be forced to leave their children unattended and unprotected when they are forced to work, which is illegal.
  • People will be prevented from seeking proper work with a proper wage and employment rights. They will also be prevented from training or studying for better work.
  • Compulsory unpaid labour will create an atmosphere of resentment as existing public workers are sacked as they are under-cut by the Single Work Programme.
  • No organisation wants to be seen to be using forced labour.

We want decent work, training and income for everyone. Workfare will not provide any of these. It is being rolled out at a time when education and training schemes, housing benefit and other public services are being cut. Unpaid work inevitably replaces paid jobs and pushes wages down.

You may be asked to accept workfare placements for anything from a month to six months as part of the new ‘Single Work Programme’.  Something similar is already in place under The Flexible New Deal.

Many claimants wish to contribute to their communities and learn new skills through freely choosing to. However, under workfare arrangements public sector bodies will end up having to police the very people they want to help. Public sector bodies will be expected to monitor the attendance of people on these work programmes, report on their behaviour, and provide other information to the DWP that can result in severe penalties for recipients.

There have been ‘679,820 New Deal Sanctions’ since the year 2000 creating great hardship for the poorest of those amongst us

We are asking you to refuse to participate in compulsory work placements and to do so publicly.  Even if your council or department has no intention of accepting workfare placements it would help us prevent the imposition of workfare elsewhere if you would sign the pledge.

In addition we are asking you not to enter into contractual relationships with companies, groups or organisations who are using people who are on these compulsory work programmes. You should not grant trading licences or planning permission to organisation or companies who are signed up to the Single Work Programme.

Signed by:

Arts Against Cuts
Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
Disabled People Against Cuts
Kilburn Unemployed Workers
Kilburn Boycott Workfare
London Coalition Against Poverty
Notts IWW (Industrial Workers of the World, Nottingham & Notts General Membership Branch)
Precarious Workers Brigade
Single Mother’s Self-Defence
Welfare Action Hackney

Please contact us if your organisation or union branch will sign the following pledge, so we can add your name to the list:
We the undersigned commit to refusing to participate in compulsory work-for-benefits placements. We want volunteering to remain just that!

Please download materials to bring to your relevant organisation:

7 Comments on “A call for organisations to boycott workfare”

  1. 1 Boycott Workfare, The UK’s Slave Labour System Being Forced on The Poor « The Global Awakening said at 10:55 am on June 10th, 2011:

    […] A call for organisations to boycott workfare […]

  2. 2 Mike Bell said at 8:32 am on June 21st, 2011:

    I recommend you contact the following groups who would be happy no doubt to join in the support:

    “Work Programme Network” (

    Ipswich Unemployed Action (

    Unlawful Sanctions (

    They seem to be doing much more than most in trying to stop workfare in the UK.

  3. 3 It’s exploitation Retailers,Councils and Charities get unpaid workers from the DWP’s “Workfare Scheme | simonpreston31 said at 12:03 am on October 19th, 2011:

    […] people.” A spokesperson for the Boycott Workfare campaign, which is encouraging workplaces to pledge not to take people on unpaid work placements organised by Jobcentres or subcontracted provider companies, said: “Huge companies making […]

  4. 4 ‘It’s exploitation and it’s repellent’: Retailers, councils and charities blatantly exploiting people on ‘workfare’ | Black Triangle Campaign said at 10:33 am on October 19th, 2011:

    […] spokesperson for the Boycott Workfare campaign, which is encouraging workplaces to pledge not to take people on unpaid work placements organised by Jobcentres or subcontracted provider companies, […]

  5. 5 Education Activist Network said at 2:38 pm on February 13th, 2012:

    Please sign us up to the list of signatories and fwd us all the emails and call-outs

  6. 6 samuel farmer said at 1:40 pm on February 12th, 2013:

    i would like to join you on the list of those refusing to use staf on workfare at my centre in cornwall .please put me withy the rest on the list and tel me how i can help in the future thanks graet work sam

  7. 7 Birmingham Trades Council » Stop the Sanctions! said at 2:00 am on May 3rd, 2013:

    […] Workfare would like to thank those PCS branches who have signed our pledge and those members who have taken part in our actions. We are grateful to members of the PCS in the […]

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