Workfare protesters besiege jobcentre

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Latest successful boycott workfare protest

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1st May 2015 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Demonstrators denouncing sanctions and workfare laid siege to a Jobcentre in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP) displayed banners and placards and distributed hundreds of leaflets urging claimants to resist benefits sanctions and the government's compulsory "work for your benefits" schemes.

They targeted High Riggs Jobcentre for their latest protest.

At one point the demo moved temporarily from the Jobcentre front door to the staff car park. 

Here, overlooked by the Jobcentre offices, protestors used a megaphone to direct speeches and chants to those inside. 

Charities and voluntary organisations are now signed up to Keep Volunteering Voluntary and are pledged to boycott all forced labour schemes

Demonstrators pledged direct action to resist sanctions and workfare, and called for solidarity from Jobcentre workers, pointing out that workfare and sanctions undermine all workers' wages and conditions.

A representative from the Food Solidarity project, which works with Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and supplies food parcels for sanctioned claimants, entered the Jobcentre to ask them to take a food collection sack to put in the staff room. 

A jobcentre worker stated this should be fine, but a manager ruled that the Jobcentre would not accept the collection sack.

Ethel MacDonald of ECAP said: "We support claimants to challenge sanctions and workfare. Together with the claimant concerned, we recently overturned a four week sanction imposed on an Edinburgh jobseeker who had informed the boss at his intended workfare placement, Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre, that his organisation should not be participating in such exploiting schemes. 

“The tide is turning against workfare - 542 charities and voluntary organisations are now signed up to Keep Volunteering Voluntary and are pledged to boycott all forced labour schemes."

The demonstration was part of a week of action against workfare and sanctions, organised to coincide with the run-up to the general election, via the Boycott Workfare network.