November’s Anti-Workfare Action.

end-unpaid-work_0What had originally been planned as an anti-workfare picket outside Poundland in Poole hit a snag early on – rumours started circulating that Poundland had pulled out of the workfare scheme within a couple of days of the action being decided upon. We decided to press on and do some leafleting instead and it was no coincidence that we spent most of our time outside Poundland.

Only one incident spoilt an otherwise pleasant day. A thuggish-looking defender of the exploiting classes decided to verbally abuse a female fellow-worker. At least he was brave enough not to target the toddler who was also with us (though he isn’t an official member… yet).

I think there are some lessons we could learn from this. For a start, I think the event was too vague. We couldn’t actually picket Poundland without risking getting egg on our faces in the (admittedly unlikely) event that they actually had fully pulled out. As a result we settled on handing out leaflets explaining what workfare is to random passing members of the public. While raising awareness is a worthwhile endeavor, I’m not sure that many of those who took leaflets would ever do anything about it. I think we need to either picket a definite user of workfare, or target the jobcentre and the providers (Best Training, A4E, etc.)

I also think there were too many of us in too small an area, leading to some people complaining that they’d been offered leaflets multiple times.

It was an enjoyable morning and we raised awareness of this exploitative and harmful program, but next time I think we need a definite target.