Whilst speaking with people at a recent Poundland picket, it was brought to our attention that Marks and Spencer have also been dipping into the workfare labour pool. A shopper let on to us that her son has been workfaring at M&S for nout, as part of State's fraud-ridden back-to-work schemes. This backs up recent doubts over M&S’ Marks and Start programme that allegedly ‘helps’ the homeless, lone parents, young people and the long-term unemployed back to work by teaching them how to stack shelves. Yes, the hallowed work ethic is re-installed in the marginalized by forcing them to repeat the same actions over-and-over again as part of a bus fare & butty placement.
The M&S story was first posted by @revpaulca on twitter on the 27th September:
Marks and Spencer started publicising the creation of a 1000 new jobs at their new logistics centre in Castle Donington and their partnership with Remploy, supporting disabled people into employment. Marks and Spencer then delightfully conflated job creation with employment opportunities for the disabled, and since then have refused to respond to questions regarding how many will benefit from their 'inclusivity' programme, named Plan A.
After 4 weeks of 'pre-employment' training, "a review takes place between you and your team leader to decide if a role in the warehouse is right for you." That review sounds like a no-guarantee-of-a-job interview and that pre-employment training sounds like workfare. When pressed on this M&S responded by saying:
The 1000 jobs might be, but the workfare isn't.
M&S have also been tapping into the homeless labour market through their Ready for Work programme, run by Business in the Community, which they help to set up in 1982. And, unemployed single parents are being funneled into M&S' aisles via the Gingerbread charity.
What this all comes down to is: through various schemes, M&S have been riding the workfare train for some time now by targeting disadvantaged groups who, faced with the prospect of loss of benefit, are forced into unpaid labour. As separate pieces of a whole, these 'placements' & 'programmes' may seem 'harmless' enough, but their combination across multiple sectors and industries add up to a significant pressure that is being used to drive down wages and simultaneously normalise the exploitation of the unemployed.
Loyal customers will, understandably, be horrified to learn M&S is exploiting the unemployed, and we will do everything we can to let as many people know that their pre-packaged meals come with a forced labour price tag.