Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Tesco workfare debate escalates

with 20 comments

Tesco last year made £3.8bn in profits. That is around £10m profit a day.

Losses made pursuing a global business (3rd largest by revenue, 2nd largest by profits) in the US are being heavily subsidized by slave labour in the UK via the form of compulsory workfare.

Anger has been expressed on the Tesco Facebook and twitter (#Tesco) – most aren’t using the hash tag though.

There is speculation of flashmobs and protests on 3rd March 2012.

Watch this space for developments (post comments for updates)


Written by Universal Jobmatch

February 17, 2012 at 11:30 am

Posted in Workfare

Tagged with

20 Responses

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  1. I’m loving it. I’ve been contributing to the fun a few times myself. Every little helps. 😉


    February 17, 2012 at 11:36 am

    • My Facebook friends have been posting without end about this.

      It’s really caught people’s attention.

      Andrew Coates

      February 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

  2. Yes, even the Daily Mail is now critical of Tesco – Every Little Helps!

    Here is the link:



    February 17, 2012 at 11:41 am

  3. Corporate filth, your time has come!

    This post kills fascists!


    February 17, 2012 at 11:45 am

  4. Jeremy Vine Radio 2 show this lunchtime is discussing the Tesco fiasco


    February 17, 2012 at 11:51 am

  5. Tesco have lost me i done online shopping with them Since i know they are working with the work programme they lose £400 a month from me and my family members I loved tesco shopping to but because of the team up with W.P I know shop online with asda


    February 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    • Asda use workfare too! Try the Co-OP


      February 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm

  6. Sign the e=petition against workfare:


    February 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm

  7. […] has written about it here and Ipswich Unemployed Action has a bit about the escalating debate here. It was also mentioned on the Bolshevik Broadcasting Commune’s Programme, Question Time with […]

  8. Just this minute saw the repeat of Question Time. The young author chap brought up this Tesco issue and was swiftly shouted down and the point not received.
    Hey, maybe he just wants to flog a few more books? Half joking, he may well be truly sincere,
    But at least it may have brought the issue to a wider audience. Even if he was talked over and shouted down he got the info out.

    In that few seconds he got the words Tesco and slave labour out in the same sentence. Blink and you’ll miss it.

    QT has quite a large audience.

    Every little helps!

    Mr No

    February 18, 2012 at 1:40 am

    • Owen Jones is great and, amongst other things, a Facebook friend and long-standing activist (still in his twenties!).

      He is very sincere – a fourth generation socialist no less!

      Andrew Coates

      February 18, 2012 at 10:16 am

  9. I’m glad this issue is getting the publicity it deserves.it is an issue that needs to be addressed.there is something tragically ironic that in the year and month we celebrate Charles Dickens birth we have the government and a multi national company conspire to have people work forced labour though the night,how Dickensian is that.the other aspect that has came to light and is very distressing is the plan to force disabled people and those with terminal cancer on the scheme.as I have watched my late father struggle and succumb to this disease i’m sure if he had to stack a few shelves in between treatments this would of added to an already traumatic experience.

    Glen Chisholm

    February 18, 2012 at 3:33 am

  10. Employers reject jobs scheme that’s all work and no pay

    Backlash spreads against project that forces benefit claimants to give their time for free

    A scheme under which jobseekers can lose benefits if they do not complete up to 30 hours a week of unpaid “work experience” is in disarray after companies and charities abandoned it in the wake of public anger.

    The clothing retailer Matalan suspended its involvement in the Government project pending an internal inquiry after claims that the scheme was exploitative. Tesco delivered an ultimatum to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) demanding that ministers guarantee no one would lose their benefits, while both Oxfam and Shelter added their names to the list of organisations which have left it altogether.

    The discount shop 99p Stores said it had also signed up to the scheme but was withdrawing because of the negative publicity, having not yet taken on a single worker through it. Waterstones, Sainsbury’s and TK Maxx have also expressed their opposition.

    The scheme attracted renewed criticism this week after a Tesco advert offered full-time hours for no pay. Instead, workers would receive only their Jobseeker’s Allowance and some expenses, the advert said.

    The figurehead for the backlash is Cait Reilly, a geology graduate from Birmingham, who was told she would lose her allowance if she refused to stack shelves at Poundland for no pay. Ms Reilly has since applied to bring a judicial review of the workfare scheme.

    Other participants say they have been left in no doubt they would have their benefits cut if they refused a place on the scheme, in contradiction of DWP rules. One said he was placed in a company working alongside people on community service. “I spent eight hours a day, four days a week working for no money,” said one participant, who asked not to be named. “I do not object on principle, it is not an issue doing a day’s work but all the studies show it does not decrease unemployment. It makes a handful of Tory MPs happy and gives free labour to a lot of very rich firms.”

    Tesco, which has had 300 participants, said it had urged the DWP to soften the scheme’s more punitive aspects. A spokesman said: “We understand the concern that those who stay in the scheme longer than a week risk losing their benefits if they drop out before the end of their placement. We have suggested to the DWP that, to avoid any misunderstanding about the voluntary nature, this threat of losing benefit should be removed.”

    The Commons work and pensions select committee is to examine the programme. Its chairman, the Labour MP Dame Anne Begg, said: “There is a huge risk that people on these schemes … do not get into full-time work.”

    Case Study

    The ‘big break’ that felt more like slave labour

    Cait Reilly, 22, claims she was told by a Jobcentre Plus representative that participation on the work academy scheme was mandatory and her benefits depended on it.

    She found that the project, which is actually voluntary, lasted four to six weeks and included a period of training as well as a stint of unpaid work experience, which involved working for 30 hours for as little as £50.45 in jobseeker’s allowance. It is supposed to be followed by a guaranteed job interview. She claims the latter never materialised.

    Participants like her are referred from a Jobcentre Plus to an agency which is responsible for finding them placements. Some say they were told they would be required to repeat a week’s work – still unpaid – if they missed a single hour.


    The Independent

    February 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

  11. Under the Tory govt. of the 1980s, these slave labour schemes were called YOP and (following a quick rebranding after a slew of fatal industrial accidents involving untrained, unsupervised teenagers operating unsafe machinery) WEPS. I worked on one of the latter, in a warehouse in Glasgow. The management had laid off a large number of paid workers and replaced them with teenagers on benefits. The company not only gained a supply of free labour, but also received a grant from the government for each unpaid worker they took off the official unemployment statistics. Plus ça change…..


    February 18, 2012 at 10:01 am

  12. Legislative Scrutiny; Welfare reform Bill
    Joint Committee on Human Rights

    Iain Duncan Smiths Answers

    (Q 4) The Government considers that, if Article 1 Protocol 1 ECHR is engaged, the measures in the Bill are proportionate to the legitimate aim of securing the economic well-being of the country. The Explanatory Notes do not provide a full analysis of the Government’s views on these measures, but refer to “relevant considerations. We would be grateful for a fuller explanation of the Government’s view on the compatibility of these proposals with Article 1 Protocol 1 (see paragraphs 694–695 of the Explanatory Notes).

    2. Article 1 Protocol 1 does not confer a right to receive social security benefit, nor does it guarantee a right to a particular amount of benefit (Stec & Others v UK, application number 65731/01 and 65900/01). The Government therefore considers that there will be no interference with Article 1 Protocol 1 where the State changes the conditions of entitlement to a benefit or introduces a new benefit. However, the Government has also considered the justifications for and proportionality of the relevant measures.

    Entitlement to universal credit

    3. The Government considers that in cases where a person applies for universal credit, but does not meet one or more of the entitlement conditions and is therefore not entitled to universal credit, no issue can arise under Article 1 Protocol 1 because the person does not have any property right.

    4. Equally, the Government considers that in cases where a person (1) applies for universal credit; (2) meets the conditions of entitlement and is therefore awarded the benefit; (3) subsequently no longer meets one or more of the conditions and is therefore disentitled, the person no longer has any property right and there is therefore no possession for the purposes of Article 1 Protocol 1. Where a person has met the conditions of entitlement and is awarded benefit, the possession in the benefit for the purposes of Article 1 Protocol 1must be limited to the right to the benefit for as long as the statutory conditions of entitlement are met.

    5. The changes are in any event justifiable. A re-design of the benefits and tax credits systems which aims to create greater incentives to work and earn money, and allows income to be subject to a more generous taper which will mean that a claimant will keep more of their benefits despite working and earning money, clearly meets a legitimate aim.

    6. Any change to an existing claimant’s amount of benefit will be a proportionate measure. Universal credit has been designed to provide an appropriate structure of support for people with no or low incomes both in and out of work. The central aim is to smooth the transition into work by reducing the support a person received at a consistent rate as their earnings increase.

    7. The provisions in clause 37 and Schedule 61 are sufficient to ensure that the Department for Work and Pensions can design transitional protection for existing claimants in a way which allows for sufficient notice to be given to claimants of any change, particularly significant change. This measure will help to ensure that the impact of any changes in benefit levels on particular individuals is proportionate.

    IBS Answers

    February 18, 2012 at 10:15 am

  13. […] has been much anger to workfare recently with the likes of Tesco (I think the word “likes” is misplaced here however), on top of welfare concerns of […]

  14. Magnificent site. Lots of useful info here. I am sending it to a few buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thank you on your sweat!


    April 4, 2012 at 1:10 am

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