Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Workfare workers are employees of the Crown?

with 27 comments

A new blow for the Government with its Work Programme, Community Action Programme, Mandatory Work Activity and Work Experience schemes as it has been suggested that the jobseekers being placed on mandatory placements through statutory legislation are in effect Crown employees.

Regardless of being assigned to the premises of an company (we prefer not to say employer in such context) or the street:-

  • there is no employment contract expressly written, verbal or implied between the worker and the company;
  • no payment in cash or in kind from said company;
  • jobseekers on the employment programme schemes are statistically employed; and
  • such appointment is exercised through statutory instrument (of an Act of Parliament)

Thus these workfare workers are employees of the Crown, an employee of the State and a public sector worker (regardless if you are operating in a private sector environment) – this is what workfare is all about, working for your benefits.

So, when you are about to start a 6 month stint at Poundland or Tescos stacking shelves with threats to your benefits, make sure you:-

  • Register with UNISON (public sector trade union) for around 81p per week
  • Serve notice on the workfare general (the company you are based at) to alert them of your union membership status
  • Remain active within the union in particular about your working conditions

27 Responses

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  1. As a Union hating Tory I agree with this post and I think that regestering with Unison for your 6 month stint of work activity is a good idea.

    Also as these companies don’t need to fill the vacancies filled by those on Work Activity and Work Experience schemes they are being subsidised by the state. Why should the state be subsidusing multnational companies?


    February 5, 2012 at 1:25 pm

  2. Reblogged this on Brighter Future and commented:
    Very good information RE Work Experience, Manditory Work Activity and the Work Programme.


    February 6, 2012 at 12:16 am

  3. Don’t think I’ll be giving any money to Unison whilst they fund a Labour party that supports workfare. We need our own union.


    February 6, 2012 at 12:57 am

  4. I’m personally a little sceptical about joining any club, be it a union or otherwise.
    Will they represent the average joe public alleged ‘scrounger’ when they are exploited for whatever period the dwp lets the provider deem a suitable punitive measure? In theory, but what about the practice?
    It’s almost too big an issue. Join the union, they can see that this is one big scam, right? And they’ll throw everything they’ve got at it for the few (yes, few) who stumped up a few quid? Maybe? And maybe I’m seeing this all wrong. They just speak up, raise awareness a little. Make noises? Are they what they used to be?
    I must take time to study. I’ve never had a direct enough experience of unions to really make any bold claims about such. This is simply my somewhat currently naive thoughts.

    A union can represent its members and have a knock on effect for the rest if they indeed can make much of a positive difference in todays rather bizarre climate. All the unions have probably had their true powers corrupted by corrupt power, they’re probably told where their line is. Cynical perhaps? Truly hope so!

    Just my own instincts tell me it’s a nice idea, maybe worth it? But at the end of the day my unemployment and the issues it may cause me, really has to be dealt with by me! Me, at the sharp end. On this side of the desk, having to duel with language with whoever is on that side of the desk. Having to watch every damn (and potentially damning!) word that may spill forth from my gob.
    Having to put up with all the bullshit, just to survive. And that’s when you aren’t doing anything wrong! An actual genuine claimant, doing ones best, but just doesn’t like being treated like shit. Gosh, really? Yeah! Really.
    For the right wing readers… Yes, that’s simply our issue. Simply! If only!

    My f**king mantra is going to be ‘there are no f**king jobs!’
    Of course, one will leave out the swearing. However tempting.

    And before they even utter ‘There are plenty of jobs out there and I simply must be doing something wrong’, obviously because I am deemed as thick as shit by some moron adviser, I will swiftly add to ‘there are no jobs’ a rather honest and plausible ‘that are suitable for me’. My f**king terms!

    Crown employee or state slave?

    I don’t care. I’m me. Doing what’s right.
    But unless you are a stubborn b*stard who doesn’t take sh*t then stay calm, do your best.
    I cannot really afford 81p a day, nor 50p for the other union.
    Or did I imagine the other one?

    Take care people. Just ‘aving a late night ramble.

    Mr No

    February 6, 2012 at 2:09 am

  5. The latest major threat to Trade Unions is the tory-led TURC campaign.

    It means Trade Union Reform Campaign – which means the Tories want to outlaw the Unions!

    There might not be any Trade Unions left if TURC triumphs!

    Even if Trade Unions survive the TURC attack, I don’t see much point in unemployed people joining a trade union when some unions are advocating Workfare! Not much unity in that, is there?

    Back in the Thatcher era, the Unions scuppered the “training” schemes for the unemployed by vigorously demanding these schemes be “surplus to requirements” – so as not to threaten the employment prospects of existing union members.

    Nowadays, it should be up to the unions and their current gainfully employed members whose future pay and conditions will be inevitably threatened by Workfare schemes to take a firm stand against the increasing use of wageless Workfare by a desperate Government as a cheap solution to unemployment.

    If Trade Unions allow Workfare into the workplace in the first place, any unemployed person joining a union under these conditions will be akin to bolting the barn door after the horse has bolted.


    February 6, 2012 at 11:11 am

  6. local poundland has a junkie geezer on the door – got “workfare” written all over his slashed up face.


    February 6, 2012 at 12:35 pm

  7. As I have previously stated, the Unions back in the Thatcher era vigourously demanded that all Government “training” courses for the unemployed were “surplus to requirements”, so as to protect existing union members.

    Today, the DWPs own rules are theoretically saying much the same thing. Yes, theoretically!

    Workfare placements are supposed to be “genuinely additional” to proper jobs. (Compare that current DWP rule with the old Trade Union requirement of “surplus to requirements”. They are both much the same).

    The DWP also say that “a [Workfare] participant should not fulfil a role which would otherwise be advertised as vacant”, ie, a Workfare participant should not be doing conventional work normally reserved for regular paid employees!

    Two questions are now necessary:

    Who is enforcing the DWPs own rules these days – including other rules about workplace activities which raise doubts over Health and Safety?

    What kind of “work” are Workfare participants actually doing?

    For an eye-opening report on this shambolic matter see the following link:



    February 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm

  8. I cannot really afford 81p a day, nor 50p for the other union.

    with unison its 81p a week not a day.


    i joined even tho my provider has lost me and don’t have to go its just another weapon for me to use against them if they find me again.

    i just signed of for 4 weeks and put in a rapid reclaim and its fucked up everything and provider thinks im still working when im not so get no sanctions and just sign every 2 weeks and no job search either:)

    super ted

    February 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    • Oops! Thanks for the correction.

      Mr No

      February 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm

  9. I recently started working (on a self-employed basis) for one of the companies delivering the Community Action Programme (yes, I know I should be ashamed of myself, but there’s not much work out there and I have mouths to feed) and I have been checking up on the rules and regulations for this latest wizard wheeze of our beloved leaders…
    It states very clearly in the supplier guidance (full text available at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/supplying-dwp/what-we-buy/welfare-to-work-services/provider-guidance/community-action-programme.shtml) that all CAP placements must be of benefit to the local community so any kind of placement at Poundland or any other employer in the commercial sector is against the rules and you are fully entitled to refuse it. If it is suggested that you must do a placement for a commercial organisation I would recommend printing out Annex 2 of the guidance (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wp-cap-a2.pdf) and telling your CAP adviser and/or your Jobcentre adviser that you do not believe the offered placement is within the rules. This is still a pilot programme and the suppliers are keen to be seen to meet all the criteria (in the hope of longer term contracts) and the last thing they want is complaints that they’re breaking any rules – so making a polite, but noisy fuss about any breach of the regulations should be fairly effective.
    The bad news is, of course, that most placements will be of the “six months in your local charity shop” type, but you are allowed to refuse to go to any organisation that has religious or political affiliations that go against your most deeply held beliefs. The hours you are required to work in this placement are based on your Jobseeker’s agreement so if your circumstances have changed since this was last reviewed or you are concerned about being forced to work evenings or weekends make an appointment at the Jobcentre to have this looked at.
    Sorry I can’t offer any more cheerful information, but I shall continue to look for loopholes …

    Please Note: This information ONLY applies to the Community Action Programme, NOT the Work Programme (supplier guidance for that is available at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/supplying-dwp/what-we-buy/welfare-to-work-services/provider-guidance/work-programme-provider.shtml).


    February 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    • Good stuff Mole.

      Your post got caught in waiting because it had lots of links.

      Andrew Coates

      February 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm

  10. Another snag has arisen to the suggestion that unemployed Workfare slaves should all rush to join Unison.

    Have a look at this Guardian report:


    If Unison organises more strikes, savage benefit sanctions will result for all “striking” Workfare slaves who are also members of Unison!

    And it will not only be public sector pension strikes organised by Unison; the Communications Workers Union (CWU) are also likely to strike over the Tory privatisation of Royal Mail – and given that the CWU have also agreed to take on Workfare slaves, that puts the latter in grave danger of savage benefit sanctions if strikes arise at Royal Mail!

    As I said earlier on this same page, the DWPs own rules about Workfare placements should be enforced, so perhaps the Unions can concentrate their fight in that area.

    The DWPs own rules could well turn out to be the Achilles Heel of Workfare – if only they can be rigorously enforced.

    Oh by the way, there should be a special reduced membership fee for all unemployed Workfare slaves who want to join a Union!


    February 7, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    • What are you saying, Tobanem? Are you suggesting that their is some conspiracy afoot to draft workfare slaves into unions in order to let them take the drop to serve the union barons interests? Workfare slaves being sanctioned in order to protect DWP staffs inflated salaries and gold-plated pensions?

      Conspiracy Theory

      February 7, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      • FAO Conspiracy Theory

        I do not go in for conspiracy theories.

        Union strike action will not favour unpaid workfare slaves, whether the latter are union members or not.

        The most absurd position would be where a Union organised a strike BECAUSE of Workfare and its threat to existing Union members! What would its Workfare members do on strike day?

        But I have plainly said several times now that the DWPs own rules could well be the Achilles Heel of Workfare – if only these rules could be enforced.


        February 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    • If the scab CWU union were to call a strike workfare slaves would have no option, unless they wanted to suffer savage benefit sanctions, but to “cross the picket line” and face the threats, intimidation and worse that this action has been known to lead to. Threats, intimidation and worse from the very members of a scab union which actively supports and encourages a slave labour workforce within the Royal Mail.

      Picket Line

      February 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm

  11. The only reason people spout crap like: “I am OK with the unemployed working for their benefits but so long as it is for the community not for private businesses” is because they are SCARED for their own jobs. Yes, they want the unemployed out breaking their backs for nothing just so long as it doesn’t threaten their own cushy livelihood. Let us see the unemployed displacing some REAL jobs – nice, well-paid cushy ones. We can start with the City of London and the bankers.

    Red Dragon

    February 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm

  12. Too many people not enough jobs is one thing but this is something else, this is an economy that is no longer big enough for the population to earn a living from it.

    Remember the Amstrad ad featuring a skipload of typewriters from the 1980s? That represented billions of hours of work a year that disappeared from the value of the economy one night never to be seen again, along with the whole nuts and bolts hinterland of an industrial economy, either automated or rationalised out of existence where it stood or exported offshore where rights violations were easier to perpetrate in the pursuit of a lower wages bill.

    Capitalism has a lot more to do than merely supply jobs, to justify the politics of inequality that it demands it must supply careers, it must supply – for the present working-age population – 42m ways to take part in building a home and raising a family. It is not good enough to treat the jobs market like some kind of ‘hunt the thimble’ expedition or say to the educational establishment, ‘we don’t know what jobs we want the workforce to do, so you’d better make them ready to do anything’. The economy has got to give each citizen a coherent account of they are expected to do and how they should go about doing it so that we can all get on with the far more important tasks of raising our families and making a success of our lives.

    The idea of ‘hidden jobs’ is so insulting to everyone’s intelligence that it is downright embarassing.

    Yes, with the country facing record levels of unemployment, the great idea is to ‘hide jobs’ so you have to work especially wonderfully and hard to get these amazing top secret jobs.


    it’s all about getting people to jump through hoops, catch a few out and take away their benefit (it’s a pittance, for all those who talk about scroungers, JSA is a pittance, really) With the country in recession its the weakest members of society who seem to get hit the hardest.

    You may have heard of this: if the wealth of the nation is represented by 12 biscuits, the elite and the bankers come along and take 11 biscuits. One biscuit is left. Then they say to the common working man: “Look, the guy on benefits wants your biscuit”

    The reason we are in this mess in the first place is because the benefits of increased productivity have accrued to a richer and richer, smaller and smaller elite instead of having been shared by all via an ever decreasing working week and full employment.

    The truth is that we have all got to make capitalism admit that it can’t do it’s job and stop crucifying the millions trapped in this slavery programme between the precariat on the one hand and the scrap heap of economic inactivity on the other, where 10m claimless people are being processed towards their premature deaths.

    The work programme or aka work for no pay is a travesty.

    I personally know a fifty-six year old man who worked at Tesco for 40 hrs a week for 6 weeks for no pay. He said he was given the worst job, constantly filling freezers in the hope he would be taken on. After the 6 weeks were up the manager asked him if he would like to stay on for some extra weeks, my friend asked “with pay”? The manager said why would he pay him when he can pick the phone up and get more unemployed people who have to work for nothing of face sanctions meaning loss of ALL benefits for up to three years!

    My friend wasn’t alone, he was part of twelve extra staff taken on to cover the xmas rush, no one was given a job at the end of the xmas period.

    He told me they had all worked really hard and were gutted they were abused in such a way. The worst was one day he had to throw out lots of food one day over the use by date. He asked the manager if he could take some home as he was having to eat more due to being active all day. The manager refused saying if he gave him free food he wouldn’t come through the front door and buy it!

    I swear I will never shop at Tesco ever again.


    February 7, 2012 at 6:23 pm

  13. For many people, the vast majority, blaming themselves will not get them a job. Clearly there aren’t enough when there are around 10 million economically inactive. Even IBS says there 5 million unemployed.

    Eventually, if you take self-criticism to heart and you still fail, you’re staking out territory for a very bleak future: mentally, emotionally, and physically. Believe me I’ve been there.

    Unemployed males are four times more likely to commit suicide.

    It is intellectually dishonest and morally dubious to tell people unemployed in a neoliberal system that explicitly requires high unemployment to function that it is their own fault.


    February 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm

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