Trades Councils Call to Boycott Workfare.
Trades Union Councils* Annual Conference 2012 – Resolutions.
This was passed.
A CALL TO BOYCOTT WORKFARE SCHEMES – carried unanimously with amendment
This Annual Conference of Trades Union Councils notes:
1. That under the new ‘Single Work Programme’, benefits claimants will be placed on
compulsory workfare placements. Something similar is already in place under
Flexible New Deal.
2. Under these reforms, ‘volunteering’ will lose its voluntary aspect and become
compulsion, watched over by charities. Voluntary groups will be expected to
monitor the attendance of people on these work programmes, report on their
behaviour, and provide other information to the DWP that can result in severe
penalties for recipients.
3. Compulsory work placements are being offered to the voluntary, public and
private sectors. If the voluntary sector refuses to participate, this would make the
programme much less viable.
4. The reform is being rolled out at a time when education and training schemes,
housing benefit and other public services are being cut. Unpaid work inevitably
replaces paid jobs and pushes wages down.
5. There have been 679,820 ‘New Deal Sanctions’ since the year 2000 creating great
hardship for the poorest of those amongst us. Under workfare, this hardship will
only be exacerbated.
The Annual Conference of Trades Union Councils believes:
1. That everyone is entitled to decent work, training and income. Benefits are a right,
not a privilege and need to be protected.
2. That we need to act in solidarity with the most vulnerable in society to protect
benefits as part of defending society against a wider attack on the welfare state as
3. That many claimants wish to contribute to their communities and learn new skills
through freely choosing to do voluntary work. Compulsory placements cause
resentment, are against the ideal of volunteering and take advantage of the most
The Annual Conference of Trades Union Councils resolves:
1. To support the call for a boycott of workfare placements
2. To boycott all forms of unpaid work (replacing paid work p ositions) such as internships
3. To publicise the campaign, as well as the details of different claimants’ support
groups, amongst charity and union networks and amongst members of the Trade
Union Council movement.
Delete final paragraph and replace with:
“1. Support the occupation of companies carrying out workfare schemes.
2. Leading and supporting a boycott at local level of workfare placements and naming and
shaming all companies currently involved in this exploitation.
3. Support the boycotting of all forms of compulsory unpaid work, including internships.
4. Fully support and publicise this campaign and support claimant support groups and the
“Unite the union community branch programme”
* Trades Councils are the lay local wing of the Trades Union Congress. They are made up of affiliated unions on a town, city and county basis. Ipswich Trades Council supports this motion, which updates one we drafted a few years ago on Flexible New Deal and the threat of workfare.