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Anti-workfare protesters blockade charity shops

This news post is over 9 years old

​Campaigners mount protests outside Edinburgh charity shops involved in the UK government's workfare scheme

Anti-workfare demonstrators forced the closure of two Edinburgh charity shops involved in the government's controversial workfare scheme on Saturday.

Protestors from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP), alongside campaigners from the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network (SUWN), blockaded the entrance to the Salvation Army shop on Earl Grey Street with a huge banner saying: “If you exploit us we will shut you down” before mounting a similar protets outside the Debra charity shop in the city’s Marchmont Crescent.

Half a dozen police were waiting for the demonstrators at the Salvation Army premises but were unable to break the blockade by around 40 protestors.

Demonstrators briefly occupied Debra’s shop, then completely blockaded it.

Both the Salvation Army and Debra use the free labour of unemployed people compelled to work for their benefits on the mandatory Work Activity scheme, run locally by Learndirect.

Collective direct action can make austerity unworkable - Esther McDonald

Simultaneously protestors besieged the Salvation Army shop in Broughty Ferry where Saturday shoppers were met with a picket.

Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network activists handed out hundreds of leaflets as well as placards including biblical texts such as ‘the labourer is worth of his reward’.

Esther McDonald of Ecap said: "We think the action was very successful. We urge all claimants to contact us and get involved in resisting workfare, sanctions, the attacks on sick and disabled claimants and the whole disgusting war on the poor. Waged or unwaged, we are all under attack and need to resist together. Collective direct action can make austerity unworkable."

Sarah Glynn, secretary of the SUWN, added: ‘Many big employers have been shamed into stopping this exploitation and over 500 charities have signed an agreement to "keep volunteering voluntary" and not participate in government workfare schemes. But so far the Salvation Army seems happy to go on exploiting the very people they were set up to help. The SUWN is planning further protests in front of the Salvation Army and other exploiters of forced labour."

The Salvation Army has defended its position, stating: "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.”



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over 9 years ago
Ty Hafan is using MWA,great Charity,but this is wrong!
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Michael Ard
over 9 years ago
I am not surprised in the least, charity shops are becoming a joke. Prices far above what is reasonable or fair. After talking to some shop staff they are told to get as much as they can for stuff received free. I asked if a homeless person asked for a warm coat would you give it to them? I was told no, they are not allowed. Most charities are top heavy now, a very small amount reaching where it was donated for. I always supported charity shops in the past, believing it was a two way thing, but not any more........greed's ugly head!
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John Brady
over 9 years ago
Is this the best tactic available. Is this direct action constructive.Most people who work in charity shops are actually volunteers and is it fair to target them. If there’s a grievance with Salvation Army shouldn't the protest be taken to the decision makers at their charity headquarters rather than volunteers or lowly paid staff in Earl Gray Street or Broughty Ferry, a million miles in decision making terms. Or take the banners to DWP or the Party Headquarters of the policy makers of the coalition parties.Yes sanctions are immoral as are attacks on disabled and the poor. But targeting volunteers doing their bid for a good cause? I think the mark has been missed. And occupying a shop then blockading it!!!. Can only imagine how that must have felt to volunteers.
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