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York Anti-Workfare protest


12:00am 31st March 2012

Campaigners in York have rejected claims made by the government over controverial "Workfare" schemes, and are preparing a protest later.

York Welfare Campaign will target city centre retailers still signed up to such schemes, such as WHSmith and Holland & Barrett, keeping up pressure on firms to withdraw from the various forced unpaid work schemes that the government operates.

"We want all schemes that force jobseekers and disabled people into working for nothing under threat of benefit sanctions to be scrapped and the Minimum Wage properly enforced. Until then, companies will just replace paid staff with unpaid staff" said campaigner Mark Bentley.

The schemes, of which there are five, were recently criticised by the Archbishop of York in the Sun on Sunday, saying it is wrong to "take advantage of the vulnerable by using them as free labour.".

Whilst many companies have withdrawn from such schemes as a result of protests, national group Boycott Workfare are co-ordinating the day of action with 35 protests taking place around Britain.

Companies still signed up include Greggs, McDonalds and the Arcadia group which owns BHS and TopShop.

"David Cameron said he wanted to end the 'something for nothing' culture in Britain, but his government continues to give major highstreet chains free labour worth millions of pounds. Its time he and they stopped using the poorest and most vulnerable to maximise profits. If a private company needs a job doing, it should use its own money and cover the minimum wage" said group member Graham Martin.

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