Recent articles by B.A.R.F.
Westcountry Mutineer benefit gig 0 comments
B.A.R.F. Pickets Smiths 0 comments
B.A.R.F. Pickets Smiths 0 commentsRecent Articles about Bath Anti-Cuts
Bath Anti-Cuts Alliance meeting Apr 10 13
Bath Anti-Cuts Alliance meeting Apr 09 13
Anti-Workfare Superdrug Picket Aug 20 12
B.A.R.F. Pickets Smiths
Yesterday, 12 activists from B.A.R.F., alongside supporters from Bristol Anarchist Federation, Bath People’s Assembly and elsewhere, picketed W.H. Smiths on Union Street in Bath, due to the company’s inclusion in the Con-Dem government’s controversial Workfare scheme.
Workfare means unemployed people being sent to do up to six months’ full-time work for one of many ‘Workfare Provider’ high street companies signed up to the scheme, such as Argos, Asda, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Superdrug, and Tesco, to name a few. Even though we already have an agreed minimum wage in this country, somehow these workers – unpaid and involuntarily – aren’t worth such a wage; instead, they are in apparently apprenticeships, even though the retail outlets they may be lucky enough to end up in after they’ve done their time require no more aptitude than that of your average school-student.
But no, Workfare isn’t about providing skills or opportunities – the vast majority of Workfare placements do not lead to paid positions. It’s about providing labour to big companies on the cheap, and undermining existing workers’ hard-won wages; why pay someone a proper wage when you press-gang someone else for free? It’s also about the taxpayer subsidising multi-million pound businesses; more than they already do, that is. But mainly it’s about easy money for those who’ve already got lots: after all, Holland & Barrett (who have only just publicly dropped the scheme) netted an unexpected pre-tax profit 19.4% due to Workfare, and Poundland’s profits shot up 27%.
And so, Bathonians were outside their local Smiths yesterday afternoon, handing out literature and holding a banner spelling out ‘Workfare is Slavery’, turning away would-be customers at the door and receiving passersby’s support, who already know that Workfare is plain dirty. On the same day, people took action elsewhere in the U.K., such as Brighton, Hastings, Liverpool, London, Oxford, Poole and York.
Revolution it was not, but, hyperbole aside, the Workfare program is yet another Tory wet dream doomed to failure – it’s been slow-going, but Holland & Barrett have just taken their place as another high-profile company keen to distance themselves from it, as did Maplin, Burger King, Sainsburys, Waterstones, Boots and others before them. Soon it will be Smiths, and then another, and then another.
This is the nature of people power: it’s often hard-going, it’s often dull and undramatic, it requires commitment and patience, but we can and will win.