Two workfare exploiters shut down in Edinburgh

Anti workfare demonstrators shut down British Heart Foundation and Salvation Army shops in Edinburgh on Saturday 23rd March. The actions, part of the Britain-wide Week of Action against the Government’s compulsory work-for-your-benefits schemes, targeted two charities who have persisted in exploiting the unemployed, sick and disabled through workfare.

 

People converged on the large British Heart Foundation store at the Kirkgate shopping centre, Leith at 12 noon. After displaying banners and placards against forced labour, protestors entered the BHF store.   Police, already in the store, hustled them out, but the management immediately locked the doors, closing the shop for business on the busiest day of the week.
 
Demonstrators immediately blockaded the entrance, holding a huge banner proclaiming IF YOU EXPLOIT US WE WILL SHUT YOU DOWN right across the only door into the shop. The shop stayed closed for almost an hour and a half, despite a growing police presence.   Braving freezing conditions demonstrators spent over two hours distributing hundreds of leaflets against workfare and gathering names for the Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty solidarity network. Greater Leith Against the Cuts also participated in the 30 – 40 strong demo, giving out information on the anti cuts battle and in particular on next Saturday’s anti bedroom tax march.
 
 
 
Meanwhile a contingent of the protestors, unseen by the police, filtered away and then reappeared to picket the nearby Salvation Army charity shop on Leith Walk.   This shop too shut down, giving the anti workfare action a double success.
 
British Heart Foundation are notorious for their use of workfare, both locally and Britain-wide. Recently they had claimed to be “moving away” from workfare, and announced they had pulled out of the Mandatory Work Activity scheme. But their website still proclaims their active participation in the Work Programme, through which not only unemployed people but also the sick and disabled are compelled to work for nothing, under threat of benefits sanctions. 
 
 
The Salvation Army openly embrace workfare. In Edinburgh they take conscripts ordered onto Mandatory Work Activity through provider JHP. They have defended forcing the sick and disabled to work for nothing by proclaiming they believe in “emancipation through employment”, reminiscent of the “Work makes Free” slogan of one A.Hitler.   Today’s action in Edinburgh was also in solidarity with the demonstrators in London who were attacked by Salvation Army security earlier in the week of action.
 
A spokesperson for ECAP said: “Today’s action was a great success.  The British Heart Foundation, the Salvation Army and all workfare exploiters need to realise that if they go on exploiting us, we will be back to shut them down.”
 
Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk ecap@lists.riseup.net
Greater Leith Against the Cuts www.edinburghagainstcuts.org.uk

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EDINBURGH COALITION AGAINST POVERTY is based at the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh (ACE), an open campaign space & infoshop providing resources and solidarity. Resources available include free computer/internet access, cheap copying, free leaflets, books, pamphlets and mags for sale, and a library. Every Tuesday from 12 to 3pm support and solidarity is available for benefits, debt hassles, housing and other problems. Please contact us at Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty c/o ACE, 17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HA, 0131 557 6242 or ecap@lists.riseup.net. We invite you to join our solidarity phone tree and get involved. ACE is also open at other times for particular events (but the support and solidarity sessions are only on Tuesday).