The fabric of Britain as we know it is being ripped apart. So much is changing, almost behind our backs, we haven't got time to notice what is happening to us. And it is happening fast.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Nice workfare if you can get it.

We thought you might be interested in this position working nights at Tesco - for your £67 a week JSA, plus travel expenses.

It's one of the 1,400 positions Tesco fills by using staff on 'workfare' schemes - that is, funded by taxpayers. They say that 300 of those obtained paid employment with the company.

Tesco's financial report last year (record profits of £3.5bn) boasted that they made £14,300 profit per employee. With an increasing number of their staff employed without wages, we expect that will increase even more. Lucky old Tesco.

Some people seem unclear about the way these schemes function: There is no job contract.

The employer has a deal with one of the scheme administrators, like A4E who get around £5k for each claimant placed. The claimant is sent on placement by the JobCentrePlus. The claimant doesn't get a choice and their benefits can be stopped if they don't do as they're told.

The employer/provider doesn't get to choose choose who is sent. Their contract is with the agency - to provide the place - and the worker is controlled by the government.

Since the employer doesn't employ the workfarer, employment laws do not apply to the post. With compulsory, indefinite workfare being rolled out for disabled and sick people, this raises concerns about bullying and abuse on placements as well as the obvious dangers to people's health.

Fellow Frother MmeLindor has blogged more on the Tesco job at

There are currently 8 job seekers for every job. Obviously, these schemes take vacancies off the market - why pay wages, when you can get the taxpayer to provide staff for free?

Read our first post about workfare here - take a look at the readers' comments. Find out more at

Mainstream retailers using workfare staff include:
Miss Selfridge
Dorothy Perkins
BHSMarks & Spencer
Holland & Barrett
Royal Mail (pilot scheme)
Burger King
Pizza Hut
Greggs the bakers
Booker Wholesale
WH Smith

Retailers who don't use workfarers:
The Co-op & Co-operative group
John Lewis & Waitrose
99p Stores has withdrawn
Waterstones has withdrawn
TKMaxx has withdrawn
Sainsbury's has withdrawn
Poundland has withdrawn
Superdrug say they will withdraw
Matalan has suspended its involvement
Argos has suspended its involvement
Greggs is reviewing its involvement
Tesco has altered the terms of its involvement

The Independent, 18th Feb 2012
The Independent, 24th Feb 2012
BBC, 24th Feb 2012

Tesco, Sept 2011 (Note dress code) 5 wanted

What can I do?

Boycott the companies exploiting staff on benefits.

Sign this petition:

Tweet your objections here:

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  1. CO-OP don't use workfare and have good ethical policies, can we add to the list please.

  2. Please consider the following:

    Terminally ill people with life expectancies exceeding six months will be expected to do Workfare. Sanctions will be brought if they do not do this.

    Carers of people with disabilities will be expected to do Workfare if the person they care for receives middle rate care DLA. Please bear in mind the qualifier for high rate care is sleep, so if your family member needs constant supervision eighteen hours a day whilst awake you will still only get middle rate care if they sleep for six hours. These carers will be expected to pay for the care of the people they care for out of their carers allowance of £55 a week. Carers in general save the state £3,000 a week for each person they care for - minimum.

    Also I have heard anecdotally of the stores listed here putting existing paid staff on zero hours and replacing with Workfare and likewise ending temporary contracts to replace paid workers with Workfare. This is making unemployment rise.

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