​Protesters to blockade Salvation Army

Thesalvationarmygosporthighstreet

​Protesters plan to blockade charities in Edinburgh for involvement in government work-for-benefits schemes 

30th January 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Anti-workfare campaigners plan on blockading a branch of the Salvation Army in Edinburgh this weekend in protest against the charity’s involvement in the government’s controversial Work Programme.

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and the Edinburgh branch of the Industrial Workers of the World plan to protest outside the shop in the city’s Earl Grey Street on Saturday, urging customers to boycott the charity, before moving on to a branch of the skin charity Debra, which also takes part in the government scheme.

Organisers say they are outraged some charities still take part in workfare – a UK government scheme where benefit claimants are forced to work for their benefits with a variety of employers.

Esther McDonald, one of the demo organisers, said many charities and anti-poverty campaigners are expressing concern about the massive rise in benefits sanctions which is driving people to use foodbanks to survive. 

We cannot understand how any charity can justify involvement in schemes which are based on exploitation

"Hundreds of charities have declared they will not participate in workfare, but the Salvation Army and Debra are two of the minority still involved," she said.

"We cannot understand how any charity can justify involvement in schemes which are based on exploitation and which are backed by sanctions which cause destitution and suffering."

Over 500 charities, including the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Edinburgh Volunteer Centre, Oxfam, Christian Aid and Shelter, have signed the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement which states: "Workfare schemes force unemployed people to carry out unpaid work or face benefit sanctions that can cause hardship and destitution.”

McDonald added: "Independent research has shown that workfare schemes do not help the unemployed find work. In fact they increase unemployment - why will an employer pay someone if they can get free labour?  

“We are calling on all charities and community groups to boycott workfare. And we urge all workers in jobs to oppose workfare too - it attacks everyone's wages and conditions.”

At the same time as the Edinburgh protest anti workfare campaigners in Broughty Ferry by Dundee will demonstrate at the local Salvation Army.

A spokesperson for Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd (SATCoL), which operates  the charity's 200 shops, said: “We are aware of ECAP’s intention to boycott one of our shops in Edinburgh on Saturday.

"Every day we see and experience the benefits people gain from being in work, volunteering or taking part in work experience.

"We strongly believe in offering our support to help people find work and stay in work, and as such, we continue to be involved with the government’s Work Programme scheme.”