Wednesday, 13 June 2012

As Claimants, We Must Organise Against Workfare

Liverpool combats Workfare over the next 2 months in the lead up to the 7-14th July National Week of Action called by the How Do We Break Workfare? Conference held in May. 

On Tuesday 12th June, Solidarity Federation, Anarchist Federation and Liverpool activists picketed Workfare profiteers A4e Liverpool in tandem with a communications blockade via email, phone & fax. Read reports at Truth Reason & Liberty and at Anarcho-bastard

The next action is a communications blockade of A4e Bootle followed by Combat Workfare in Wavertree on Saturday 16th June.

If claimant-organised networks are to become a reality, ongoing picketing of Prime Providers, such as A4e, must continue so that the fear preventing claimants from mobilizing against Workfare exploitation is broken down. Jobcentres must also be targeted, as well as continued disruption of retailers & charities that seem to have no problem tapping the unemployed as a source of free labour. 

Being ‘attached’ to a Prime Provider for 2 years on the Work Programme is a mind-fuck: constant berating masked by an adviser’s smile, not-so-subtle coercion into unsuitable jobs, and outright bullying of ‘customers’ all have a psychological effect. When claimants are unaware of their rights —however minuscule those rights are— although intuitively know they are being exploited, it’s difficult & frustrating not to able to stand up for yourself when you’re being asked to sign a 50-page document or to have the confidence to refuse a job that isn’t suitable. More often than not, companies, like A4e, are hoping that’s the case because you’re easier to manipulate and easier to make money out of long-term unemployed claimants can be worth £1000’s to Work Programme providers. 

Talking with claimants and giving them the right info & tactics during pickets is a step towards claimant-organised networks bringing down Workfare.

As claimants and/or activists we must set up Jobcentre pickets that engage new claimants who’ve yet to experience the full onslaught of the Department for Work & Pensions’ Work Programme; to kit them out with info & tactics so they at least have some say in their own lives while on the dole. Furthermore, at some point the question of solidarity between claimants & DWP frontline staff has to be resolved. For more discussion on this read Dole Bondage? Up Yours! An account of Wales against the JSA “Only doing your job” starts to wear very thin when you’re being slapped with a 2-month benefit sanction. 

As claimants organizing against exploitation, the preference is solidarity with frontline employees as part of a broader working-class resistance against attacks on welfare & work. With that said, the priority must always be claimant defence & action.

And the pressure must be kept up on retailers & charities, by using pickets and blockades to disrupt operation and custom. For all the exhortations by some companies, like Argos, that they’ve suspended involvement in Workfare, many have sneakily carried on under the radar until found out again.

The fight against Workfare must centre on claimant-organised networks taking direct action against Prime Contractors, Subcontractors and profit-making businesses using unpaid workers.
If you exploit us, we will shut you down!  

For more info on claimant rights visit:

For more info on the national Boycott Workfare campaign visit:

Join Liverpool Claimant Network at:


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