Tag Archives: A4e

My Workfare nightmare

240 hours’ work for no pay – then back on the unemployment scrapheap

Unemployed from Hull

After being unemployed for over eight months in Hull, one of the worst areas for unemployment in the country, I was put onto a ‘voluntary’ work experience scheme.

The Jobcentre had been mentioning the Work Experience scheme to me for a good few weeks when they phoned me up to put me forward for what they called a “brilliant opportunity”. This amounted to a four to eight week placement at a Home Bargains store with a possible job at the end of the placement – if they chose to ‘keep us on’.

In the end I worked 30 hours a week for the full eight weeks (almost double the contracted hours we would have if we got the job) – six hours a day, Monday to Friday. Four of us started at the same time and another four started a month later. This meant that the shop, which employed between 30 and 40 people, had seven (one participant got a job elsewhere) people working the contracted hours of 15 fully paid workers but receiving nothing from the employer!

Numerous members of staff asked if we were part of the A4e programme which was recently shown to be nothing more than a money-making scam for the shareholders of the company. This indicates that the use of people forced onto benefits due to a lack of jobs is commonplace at the store I worked at.

Although the placement was supposed to be about gaining ‘experience’, within three or four weeks I was fully trained in pretty much all aspects of the work. After a month I and my fellow work experience colleagues were used as nothing but unpaid workers – not shadowing anyone but given the same responsibilities as members of staff.

I was also asked to a do a ‘stock take’ while at the store but this was scheduled for a Sunday. This was technically illegal as we had been told that we weren’t permitted to work weekends or bank holidays. Bur we all realised that to challenge this probably would have resulted in us not getting work at the end of the placement.

The most galling thing about my time on work experience was that after the first week the store manager said that she would look at putting us on the payroll after we were till-trained. Well, by the end of the third week I was fully till-trained yet still I heard nothing about being kept on.

At the end of my eight weeks I was told that I wasn’t getting the job. As annoying as this is, it was made worse by the fact that, as a result of the placement, I missed training opportunities that would have given me a much higher chance of gaining employment.

These schemes are used, not to give training or experience, but to undercut those who are in paid employment using unpaid ‘volunteers’. Because of this it is vital that the trade union movement, especially those that organise in retail and fast food, take up the issue of workfare and also of youth unemployment – which is now over one million.

A coordinated trade union fightback which includes moves towards unionising un-unionised workplaces could see workfare fully defeated and be a huge blow to the Con-Dems and their pro-big business agenda. Youth Fight for Jobs is campaigning across the country against workfare and for genuine job creation as young people say: we won’t be a lost generation!

Cardiff says no to workfare

Youth Fight for Jobs and Cardiff Trades Union Council demonstrated outside the Welsh Liberal Democrats Spring conference this Saturday to oppose the governments’ workfare scheme, which has seen the unemployed forced to work for big companies or risk losing their benefits.

Joined by around 70 trade union, young, socialist and occupy Cardiff activists the protest sent a clear message to Nick Clegg and his coalition cronies that the exploitive workfare programme won’t be tolerated, and the campaign that has seen many large companies pull out of the scheme is far from over.

We saw Clegg hurry sheepishly into the conference behind a line of police and security, as the crowd chanted “When Nick Clegg says workfare, we say unfair!” and “Tory!”

The deputy Prime Minister has said the workfare program will help get the unemployed “off the sofa” this shows how millionaire Nick is completely isolated from the realty of unemployment which he has never had to face, maybe he should be asked to work for £2.19 an hour.

The truth is that far from helping the unemployed this scheme will see workers pay and conditions attacked, capitalism relies on unemployment to drive down costs and work fare is a prime example of this exploitation, why hire someone on a real wage when you can get someone to work for free?

The pressure on workers means it is vital to link up with the trade unions and the workers, and why we called a joint demonstration with Cardiff Trades Council, Usdaw activists supported the demonstration, and trade unionist will be vital in building a mass movement to oppose the scheme.

After the demonstration outside the conference the demonstration marched to the centre of town, to protest outside McDonalds, a company that is worth $22.8 billion but still sees the need to avoid paying their workers.

The protesters handed out leaflets, and came up with the chant, “Old McDonald had shop, ee-I-ee-I-Oh! And in that shop there worked some slaves! ee-I-ee-I-Oh! With a big mac here, a fatcat there, here a big mac, there a fatcat, everywhere a fatcat!
Old Mcdonald had a shop! ee-I-ee-I-Oh!!!”

The workfare scheme has demonstrated how the main party’s offer no credible alternative to youth unemployment, but it has also demonstrated that a focused campaign being lead by socialists can have a huge impact on this weak government and even major corporations.


Budget Day Protests: In your area

Join Youth Fight for Jobs as we demonstrate against the ConDem cuts budget on the 21st March. This page will be updated as more info comes in so keep watching this space.

This is whats happening in your area:


Youth Fight for Jobs Alternative Budget

Join us as we put forward a alternative to the austerity budget of George Osborne

Wednesday 21st March

Downing Street,  SW1A Assemble 11:30 AM

Call Suzanne Beishon on 07716 610893 for more info

North West:

Liverpool- 5-6.30pm nearChurch   Street, city centre

Manchester- 5-6.30pm nearPiccadillyGardens, city centre

Skelmersdale – 12.10-12.50 nearWest Lancscollege

Wigan- daytime, details TBC

For more info call Hugh on 07769 611320


Leeds – 5.30pm Dortmund Square (barrleman), Leeds

For more info call Iain on 07809 839793

East Midlands:

Assemble 12 noon outside Council House, Old Market Square

There will be protests in Leicester and Lincoln as well – details to follow, for more info call Becci on 07751 044 309



Youth Fight for Jobs and Education Campaign Pack

Youth Fight for Jobs Campaign Pack. Your quick and easy guide to being a thorn in the side of the bosses and government

YFJE Campaign Pack PDF

Press release – Budget day protest and summer demo

Press release for Immediate Use:

Youth Fight for Jobs calls for escalated protests to force government to scrap ‘workfare’ altogether and create decent jobs!

Budget day protest and summer demo

Following a series of retreats by the government on its flagship ‘work experience’ schemes, campaigners plan to keep up the pressure on government to scrap all ‘workfare’ projects. We call on them to instead unroll a programme for job creation. Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) has called a protest outside parliament as well as actions across the country on budget day – 21 March. YFJ has also put out a call for an urgent meeting of trade unions and other campaigns against workfare (Boycott workfare, Right to Work etc) to discuss jointly calling a mass demonstration against unemployment and slave labour in the summer.

Youth Fight for Jobs national Organiser Paul Callanan said

‘On budget day, when the coalition government announce what will undoubtedly be more of the same slash and burn approach to jobs and services, they will feel the hot breath of angry youth, workers and the unemployed and the disabled, demanding the right to decent jobs – not the slave labour of ‘workfare’. The government’s recent retreats on the ‘work experience scheme’, including having been forced to remove the threat of benefit sanctions, show the effect that protest can have. Now we are pressing for the Con-Dems to drop all schemes involving the unemployed taking part in unpaid labour. Instead we call on them to take a serious approach to the scourge of unemployment, implementing a programme of job creation not the current job destruction.’

Youth Fight for Jobs Spokesperson Claire Laker-Mansfield said

‘We are leading the call for a mass demonstration in the summer against workfare and mass unemployment. Internationally, including this week in Spain, we are seeing young people protesting in their tens of thousands demanding a future. We hope to see that spirit in Britain in the summer with thousands marching through the streets of London fighting for real jobs not slave labour!’

Paul Callanan and Claire Laker-Mansfield available for interview call 020 8558 7947


Workfare Protests!

Poundland and a few others have suspended involvement in the slave labour scheme & Tesco are wobbling as a result of the huge public anger at the unpaid work. We have called a number of emergency protests to pile on the pressure, make them pull out completely and also put pressure on the others still involved in the scheme.

1) Tomorrow 1pm at A4e – Ingestre Court, W1F 0JL

2) Saturday 12noon Stratford Westfield for the ‘Westfield Workhouse Tour’ – A guided tour around the workfare employers of Westfield and Stratford.

3)Monday evening- McDonalds protests across the country. Contact Youth Fight For Jobs to find your nearest protest or to help organise one yourselves!

Details so far:


London Lewisham -11am McDonalds, 166/172 Lewisham High Street


London Leytonstone – 6pm McDonalds, 865-873 High Road Leytonstone

Sheffield – 5pm, McDonalds, 20-22 High Street, Sheffield near Cathedral

Leeds- 4.30pm, McDonalds, Top Briggate

Wakefield- 12noon, McDonalds, 40-42 Kirkgate, WF1 1TQ