With football clubs under fire for not paying staff the minimum wage, Boycott Workfare can reveal some of them are using workfare to avoid paying staff at all. Portsmouth FC, which went into administration following relegation, bankruptcy and debts of millions, is now owned by the fans in the shape of the Portsmouth Supporters Trust. Ironically one of its sponsors is ‘Jobsite.co.uk‘. The club is open about its use of workfare through the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme, telling a local paper:
“So far there have been 35 people working here over the past six weeks .They’re contracted to do 6.5 hours a day and since they’ve been here, for the past six weeks they’ve done more than 3,000 hours of painting and maintenance and general cleaning. It’s incredible.
Some of the painting we would do every year, but we’re painting things that haven’t seen a lick of paint in maybe 25 years”
The general up keep and maintenance of the club is done by people forced to work for free under threat of losing their barely subsistence benefits for a minimum of 3 months, and up to 3 years. Turns out the self-proclaimed ‘community club’ are more than happy to exploit the local unemployed community by using them to do jobs – without wages. By doing workfare at Portsmouth FC, the unemployed are effectively being used to pay off the club’s debts.
But Pompey is not the only club involved. On the Boycott Workfare facebook there has now been reports about more MWA at Leciester City Football Club and mandatory Work Programme placements at Bristol Rovers Football Club and Bristol City Football Club. On top of this tender documents that companies used when bidding for their MWA contracts back in 2011 name local clubs Handsworth FC, Hurlford United FC and Lanark Juniors FC as possible workfare users.
Someone on facebook described the conditions at Leciester City Football Club where her friend has been forced to work:
“Apparently at leicester fc grounds,there is at least one person with special needs on a MWP, and i am told they are treated badly, only being given a 30 Min lunch break. The have also reported being spoken to derisorily by the supervisor at LCFC stadium, and being forced to wipe down chairs for six hours one day-clearly punitive & not about gaining experience or improving skills.”
Football is not unique in the sporting world and people using our Name & Shame form have also been sent to Keighley Cougars Rugby League Club and the Leicester Riders Basketball Club to do 4 week long MWA placements.
These clubs and sports are enjoyed by many, but they should not be using forced free labour where people face losing everything if they do not do as the clubs demand – and Pompey, not having got round to painting your stadium for 25 years is not an excuse!
If you suspect that your local sports club are using workfare report them on our Name and Shame form. Why not contact them using their twitter and facebook pages to express your concern at their involvement in workfare schemes which increase poverty and undermine paid jobs.