Earlier this year, activists in the UK have launched a campaign calling on companies not to participate in the workfare scheme. Under the scheme, the unemployed are required to work, receiving no salary but only their benefit. In addition to the boycott, the campaign calls on participants in the scheme to refuse signing an Information Disclosure form. Refusing to sign the form might prevent agencies claiming remuneration for work placements.
A spokesperson of Boycott Workfare told Corporate Watch: “[Workfare] placements are not designed to help people into full-time paid work but they serve to increase organisations' profits. They provide a constant stream of free labour and suppress wages by replacing paid workers with unpaid workers. People are coerced, bullied and sanctioned into taking the placements.”
The British government has been hesitant to disclose which companies use unpaid workers, but activists have found that such information can be obtained through a Freedom of Information request. Companies where workfare participants are placed include Tesco, Asda, Primark and Hilton Hotels.
Last year, organisations in Amsterdam protested at Albert Heijn (Ahold) supermarkets against using unemployed people who are paid below the minimum wage.