Glasgow Picket Against Holland & Barrett Workfare
Saturday 31st March
Meet 12 noon outside the front entrance of St Enoch's Underground Station to move on to the Workfare target - Holland & Barrett 9 Queen Street, Glasgow, G1 3ED.
Holland & Barrett are set to become one of the biggest exploiters of forced labour with plans to take on 1000 unpaid work experience placements from the Job Centre over the next year. With a workforce of only around 3,500 people this could amount to almost a quarter of their current staff on Workfare – work for dole money.
All 5 Workfare schemes still have sanctions in certain circumstances i.e. benefits are cut, so they are not entirely voluntary. Job Centres use every trick in the book to force benefit claimants onto nominally voluntary schemes. The Guardian has reported that young people who refuse the Work Experience scheme face Workfare under a different scheme.
These schemes represents a huge public subsidy for Holland and Barrett who make millions in profit. At present they offer a four week induction programme followed by more specialized product advisor training. Under the Work Experience scheme young people can be required to carry out a two month period of workfare, under the Work Programme it can be as long as six months. Therefore Holland & Barrett can use these schemes to cover wages during their induction and training periods. They have the added advantage of having workers with no employment rights who can be laid off at a moments notice. So the ones they like they keep, the ones they don’t they can get to stack shelves or hump boxes about for a bit and then farm them back to the dole office. Holland and Barrett have taken on 500 young people for 8 week periods since last summer and of these only about 20% have been taken on permanently.
Holland & Barrett can therefore use publicly paid for schemes to fund both their recruitment costs, staff training and to make up any extra staff at busy periods. This will have a devastating impact on the staff to whom they actually pay wages, who will no doubt see hours and over-time cut. If Holland and Barrett are using free staff who are paid only meagre Government benefits then that means they are recruiting less staff than they would otherwise. Workfare is causing, not curing unemployment.
Boycott Holland and Barrett! Boycott Workfare!