Solidarity with Boycott Workfare against Third Force News smear campaign

The Scottish voluntary sector journal "Third Force News" has been covering the actions of Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty for a while, in a sympathetic fashion.  Now they have decided to show their real face and have started a smear campaign against groups protesting workfare-exploiting companies. On 29 April they published anonymous allegations of terrorism against the Boycott Workfare campaign group and on 30 April they started a wildly biased poll under the question: "Are anti-workfare campaigners justified in using intimidation tactics?"  

These accusations cannot be justified. In purporting to defend the interests of charities, the TFN piece and the poll attempt to delegitimize direct action and protest against workfare as "intimidation". We believe on the contrary that these tactics are a necessary response to a system in which:

  • Claimants are being blackmailed into working for no wages, for only the benefits they are entitled to anyway.
  • Claimants are threatened with hunger, cold and destitution through sanctions (a breach of our human rights commitments) if they refuse workfare.
  • Claimants are intimidated by Jobcentre staff who are told to deliberately provoke them into incurring a sanction.

Both the article and the poll are based on extremely serious anonymous allegations against Boycott Workfare campaigners.  An anonymous quote from the article accuses campaigners of blackmail.  But a JSA claimant being threatened with a 13-week sanction for refusing to undertake a 4-week Mandatory Work Activity placement would mean losing over £1,000, whereas workfare providers like Learndirect UK get paid several hundred pounds for every claimant they get into a MWA placement, which comes from the UK taxpayer via the DWP.  Blackmail is for financial gain - campaigning against workfare is for human dignity, survival, and solidarity.

Protestors denounce sanctions and workfare at Edinburgh Jobcentre

Demonstrators denouncing sanctions and workfare besieged High Riggs Jobcentre in Edinburgh on Wednesday 29th April. Braving pouring rain, protestors from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and other groups displayed banners and placards and distributed hundreds of leaflets urging claimants to resist benefits sanctions and the government's compulsory "work for your benefits" schemes.

At one point the demo moved temporarily from the Jobcentre front door to the staff car park.  Here, overlooked by the Jobcentre offices, protestors used a megaphone to direct speeches and chants to those inside.  Demonstrators pledged direct action to resist sanctions and workfare, and called for solidarity from Jobcentre workers, pointing out that workfare and sanctions undermine all workers' wages and conditions - workfare is even being used in Jobcentres!

A representative from the Food Solidarity project, who work with Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and supply food parcels for sanctioned claimants, entered the Jobcentre to ask them to take a food collection sack to put in the staff room.  A jobcentre worker initially stated this should be fine, but then a manager ruled that the Jobcentre would not accept the collection sack.


ECAP say: " We support claimants to challenge sanctions and workfare.  Together with the claimant concerned, we recently overturned a 4 week sanction imposed on an Edinburgh jobseeker who had informed the boss at his intended workfare placement, Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre, that the community centre should not be participating in such exploiting schemes.  

If you are sanctioned - dispute the decision, you have a good chance of overturning the sanction and getting your benefits back.  Contact us for support, and see the practical advice here.  If you are sent on workfare, don't just accept it, there are ways to fight back - again, contact us and see the info here.

The tide is turning against workfare - 542 charities and voluntary organisations are now signed up to "Keep Volunteering Voluntary" and are pledged to boycott all forced labour schemes."

Demonstrators to besiege Edinburgh Jobcentre over sanctions and workfare

Demonstrators are set to descend on High Riggs Jobcentre in Edinburgh tomorrow morning to declare their resistance to benefits sanctions and workfare.  The protest at the Jobcentre by Tollcross will continue over lunchtime and organisers Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty say: "We aim to send a strong message that cutting people's benefits and forcing them to rely on foodbanks is not acceptable.  Sanctions and workfare not only attack the claimants directly affected, they undermine all workers' wages and conditions."

Take action against Sanctions and Workfare

No to Sanctions and Workfare
Demonstrate at High Riggs Jobcentre, by Tollcross, Edinburgh
11am - 1pm
Wed 29th April

High Riggs JobcentreHigh Riggs JobcentreOrganised by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty as part of the Week of Action co-ordinated through Boycott Workfare.  Supported by Edinburgh Anarchist FederationGreater Leith Against The Cuts, the Industrial Workers of the World, and Edinburgh Anti-Cuts Alliance

No workfare. No sanctions. Whoever wins we will resist!

As the general election campaign gets underway we are already seeing politicians calling for more of the same policies. More workfare. More sanctions. Yet we know that these policies have been a total disaster. This is why we are holding a week of action in the week before the election. We need your help to expose and challenge workfare and sanctions policies and the political lies that underpin them.

Workfare undermines paid jobs and wages and results in sanctions. It does nothing to improve the chances of people finding a job and exploits those forced to carry it out. Last year over half a million people had their benefits sanctioned. The number of benefit sanctions imposed by the DWP now exceeds the number of fines imposed by the courts. People are being left with nothing for up to three years. There is now overwhelming evidence of the harm being caused by sanctions. Sanctions are damaging the health of claimants and leading to hunger, homelessness and deaths.


Over 30 towns and cities held protests on 2nd March against the involvement of sinister US based outsourcing company Maximus in the despised Work Capability Assessments.

In Edinburgh protestors braved freezing temperatures to besiege the Maximus Assessment centre at Argyle House, Lady Lawson Street. Protests took place as far away as Canada where Ontario Coalition Against Poverty took to the streets in  solidarity.

Protests to besiege Maximus in Work Capability Assessment storm

Protests will be held Britain-wide on March 2nd to denounce US based company Maximus and its takeover of the Work Capability Assessment, previously run by the French IT company ATOS.   In Edinburgh demonstrators are set to descend on the Maximus Assessment Centre in Argyle House on Lady Lawson Street from 1pm onwards on Monday.


High Riggs Jobcentre, EdinburghHigh Riggs Jobcentre, EdinburghThe 25th February Britain-wide Day of Action saw protestors descending on High Riggs, Leith, and South St Andrews Street jobcentres in Edinburgh, and also  nearby Musselburgh jobcentre, to show solidarity with arrested activist Tony Cox.  Nearly 20 people were involved, distributing hundreds of leaflets declaring "Advocacy is not a crime" and "You have the right to be accompanied to all benefits interviews", and displaying placards and banners.  Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony Cox was arrested at Arbroath Jobcentre on 29th January while representing a vulnerable jobseeker.


Solidarity protest at Arbroath Job CentreSolidarity protest at Arbroath Job Centre

 Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony Cox was arrested on 29th January after Arbroath Jobcentre management called police to stop him representing a vulnerable jobseeker.  We urge you to join a Day of Action on 25th February at Jobcentres round Britain to show your solidarity.

We must fight back against this clear attempt to intimidate claimants and deny us the right to be accompanied and represented.  Tony will be in court in Forfar on 25th February facing charges of  "threatening behaviour, refusing to give his name and address and resisting arrest".   That same day we call on people to descend on jobcentres round Britain to show solidarity with Tony and distribute info to claimants urging all to exercise the right to be accompanied and represented at all benefits interviews.


High Riggs Jobcentre, by Tollcross : 10am - 12 noon.     Leith Jobcentre, Commercial St : 9am - 11am.    Musselburgh Jobcentre : 2pm - 3pm.    St Andrews Street Jobcentre : 11am - 1pm

Please contact if you would like to help at any Edinburgh or Lothians jobcentre. 

Anti workfare protestors shut down Edinburgh charity shops

Anti workfare demonstrators closed down two Edinburgh charity shops involved in the government's exShutting down workfare exploiter Salvation ArmyShutting down workfare exploiter Salvation Armyploiting workfare schemes on Saturday 31st January.  Protestors blockaded the entrance to the large Salvation Army shop on Earl Grey Street with a huge banner : IF YOU EXPLOIT US WE WILL SHUT YOU DOWN.   For two hours the shop was virtually empty. 

The action then switched to the DEBRA charity shop on Marchmont Crescent, another user of the compulsory "work-for-your-benefits" schemes.  Demonstrators briefly occupied the shop, then completely blockaded it, the closure completed by the manager bolting shut the wooden door.  Simultaneously protestors besieged the Salvation Army shop in Broughty Ferry, by Dundee.

Half a dozen police were waiting for the demonstrators at the Salvation Army but were unable to break the blockade by around 40 protestors.  Unity between the sick and disabled, the unemployed and workers was shown by the banners from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, the Industrial Workers of the World and Black Triangle, displayed alongside placards proclaiming NO WORKFARE - NO SANCTIONS - NO AUSTERITY, and STUFF WORKFARE : NO WAGE SLAVERY : NO DOLE SLAVERY.  

"Shut down the Salvation Army workhouse" was the cry from the megaphone, and speeches and chants emphasised that the battle against workfare was part of the wider international class struggle against capitalism.  Around 500 leaflets were distributed, declaring "Workfare undermines all workers' wages and conditions and is an attack on waged and unwaged alike."


11am onwards Sat 31st January at Salvation Army charity shop, 36 Earl Grey Street, by Tollcross, Edinburgh EH3 9BN   

(Earl Grey St is an extension of Lothian Rd, its the last block before Tollcross - 10 minutes walk from west end of Princes St.)

The Salvation Army are a notorious user of the government slave labour schemes which force unemployed claimants and some sick and disabled claimants to work for nothing - or face benefit sanctions. This particular Salvation Army shop is currently exploiting claimants forced to labour for no wages on the Mandatory Work Activity scheme, run locally by Learndirect.

Workfare undermines all workers wages and conditions and is an attack on waged and unwaged alike.  Our actions locally have already prompted charities like Cancer Research UK to withdraw from the workfare schemes run by Learndirect.  Let's make workfare unworkable!  Our message to rip-off employers is simple - if you exploit us we will shut you down!

All welcome - join the fightback to make austerity policies unworkable.

Organised jointly by ECAP and Edinburgh Branch Industrial Workers of the World
IWW - 

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