Anti-workfare protest at Homebase Harringay – Sun 14 July, 1pm

July 13, 2013

As part of Boycott Workfare’s week of action, Haringey Solidarity Group will be picketing outside Harringay Homebase tomorrow, Sunday from 1pm-2pm in protest at use of unpaid workers at their Willesden store.

Join us on Sunday 14 July, 1pm at Homebase Harringay, 430 Green Lanes, N4 1DT.  by Harringay Green Lanes rail station.

Earlier this year, we picketed their store in response to their use of the Job Centre’s work experience scheme which forces claimants to work for their dole, or face cuts to their benefits.  Homebase later made a statement confirming they would not use any further recruits from the scheme, but it seems they have now gone back on their word and have been up to the same tricks at their Willesden branch.

Brent Housing Action have been picketing at their local branch today.  And we will be supporting them tomorrow by putting on the pressure at our local branch.

You can also show support by contacting Homebase about their use of unpaid labour:

Contact Homebase HQ on 0845 603 6677 or 01908 692 301 or
For more details, see the press release below from Brent Housing Action and Boycott Workfare.

called by Haringey Solidarity Group
0845 223 5270

Press Release from Brent Housing Action

Willesden Homebase to be subject to protest over unpaid workers

On Saturday 13th July members of Brent Housing Action and Boycott Workfare will be picketing the Willesden Homebase store at 473 High Road, NW10 2JH between 11 and 13:00hrs in protest at their use of unpaid workers employed through the Work Experience programme overseen by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Brent Housing Action are taking this action as part of Boycott Workfare’s “Week of Action” against companies and organisations who make profits from employees who are paid through the taxpayer-funded Social Security system, which not only reduces the opportunities for these individuals to find appropriate work but reduces the number of paid jobs available in our community.

This is particularly significant in the case of Homebase. Boycott Workfare were surprised to be contacted by a whistleblower recently as it is less than two months since Hayley Fowell, a PR Manager for the Home Retail Group which owns Homebase released the following statement:

“…after careful consideration we have decided to halt any further recruitment of colleagues through the work experience programme with Job Centre Plus”.

Minutes later she added to the statement:

“… we have decided not to recruit from this particular Job Centre Plus scheme going forward.”

On-site research by a Boycott Worker activist suggested that this is not the case in Willesden, and after giving the store manager the opportunity to clarify his position – which was not taken up – the decision was made to re-instate the national protests of April and May 2013 which led Homebase to claim they had withdrawn from the programme.

The previous protests emerged after The Guardian published a poster from the manager’s office at the Haringey Homebase which appeared to boast about cutting paid work “Would 750 hours with no payroll costs help YOUR store?” A whistleblower has described how hours in Haringey have been cut from 48 per week to 8 per week for some staff.

Speaking for Brent Housing Action, Nic Lane said: “It is obviously disappointing to see such a large organisation as the Home Retail Group get involved with workfare at any point, but utterly disgraceful that they claim to have ceased using these programmes when all they were interested in was ending the bad publicity they were subject to as a result of the previous protests. As they are solely interested in profiting from the enforced labour of claimants we will continue to act to hinder this profiteering until they bring paid employment back into our borough and into all their stores nationally.”

Notes to Editors
1) The action was called by Brent Housing Action together with Boycott Workfare.  Brent Housing Action are a group of residents, campaigners and community organisations that seeks to support those affected by the cuts in the welfare system and the social injustices these bring that threatens the vibrancy and infrastructure of the local community. More info:

2) Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign network to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage. We are a grassroots campaign, formed in 2010 by people with experience of workfare and those concerned about its impact. We expose and take action against companies and organisations profiting from workfare; encourage organisations to pledge to boycott it; and actively inform people of their rights. We are not affiliated to any political party and are open to all who share our aims. More info:

3) A summary of the outcome of the last set of national protests against Homebase can be found here: . After a poster was leaked showing managers boasting about saving 750 hours of payroll costs (each week), a whistleblower told the campaign that all staff had had reductions in overtime, and that some people’s hours had been cut from 48 hours down to 8 hours:

4) Countless studies show workfare does not help people find work. People on the Work Experience scheme come of benefits at the same rate as if they weren’t sent on it, and there is some evidence to suggest that it may actually lead to them spending longer on benefit than they would otherwise have done:  There is also considerable evidence, other than that regarding Homebase,  to suggest that employers use workfare solely to reduce their wages bill as can be seen here:

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