Anti workfare demonstrators blockaded B and M Bargains in Musselburgh by Edinburgh on 27 June. Demonstrators denounced that the Jobcentre threatens claimants with sanctions to force people to work for their benefits for employers like B and M. Many shoppers turned away when it was explained how the multi-million pound business is exploiting claimants to make even more profits.
Police aggressively tried to clear the entranceway to the shop, pushing demonstrators, but protestors refused to be intimidated, holding the giant banner IF YOU EXPLOIT US, WE WILL SHUT YOU DOWN” across the shop front. Impromptu speeches via the megaphone by several demonstrators called on people to stand together against exploitation, resist workfare and battle for a fair equal world where resources are shared. “Workfare attacks all workers, undermining everyone’s wages and conditions”.
MORE WORKFARE = LESS WORKERS
B and M stores recently won a “prestigious” trade industry award for their use of workfare. The reality is that they use workfare to further exploit their workforce. Whistleblowers have revealed to Boycott Workfare:
“Just to let you know B&M Stores have taken on new staff under a workfare scheme. This was 1 month after staff hours were cut by 50%. This meant my hours were cut from 20 to 10.”
“Older or long term staff were sacked and a new wave of 20 workfare placements taken on.”
Claimants directly affected by workfare were among those participating – demo organisers Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty support claimants battling against being sent on these exploiting schemes. “We accompany claimants to the jobcentre, to meetings with jobcentre managers, to workfare providers like Learndirect, and if needbe to workfare placements, to back up claimants who are arguing against being sent to do forced unpaid labour. If enough people take action, we can make workfare UNworkable,” say ECAP.
The demonstration had a big impact in the middle of busy Musselburgh High Street and the participation of around 30 people was a good turn-out for one of the first demos Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty has held outside the city centre or Leith. Supported by Edinburgh Anarchist Federation and the Industrial Workers of the World, members of groups such as Greater Leith Against the Cuts and Stirling Anarchists were also among the participants.
The action was part of a Britain-wide day of action against B and M, co-ordinated through Boycott Workfare. B and M Stores in Sheffield, Manchester, London, and Ellesmere Port were among those besieged by anti workfare protestors.
Reports and photos of actions round Britain at https://www.facebook.com/boycottworkfare
And photos from Musselburgh at https://www.facebook.com/edinburghagainstpoverty?sk=wall
Being sent on workfare? Practical ideas for resistance at http://www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/68