Christian charities face Christian protests over use of workfare labour
Christian organisations including the Salvation Army and the YMCA are participating in “workfare” schemes, using workers who must work without pay or face losing their benefits. Christianity Uncut is writing to the charities to urge them to withdraw from the schemes as a public witness against forced labour.
The call comes at the start of a week of action against workfare. The action has been called by the group Boycott Workfare for the week of 18-24 March. During the week, Christianity Uncut is planning to write to all Christian organisations using workfare labour.
Christianity Uncut welcome the fact that most churches and Christian organisations are not participating in workfare. We encourage them to sign the pledge promising that they will not do so in future.
Chris Wood, a spokesperson for Christianity Uncut, said:
“Workfare workers are not volunteers – their work is not voluntary but obligatory, and they should be paid a living wage. Instead they are being threatened with losing the benefits on which they live if they refuse to take part in this forced labour scheme.
“We are deeply saddened that charities such as the Salvation Army and YMCA are undermining the good work they do, and their witness to Christ, by participating in workfare schemes. Throughout the economy, workfare is increasing poverty and unemployment by reducing the jobs available for paid staff. Christians need to make a public witness against workfare and proclaim Jesus’ teaching that ‘The worker is worthy of his pay’ (Luke 10,7).”
There are numerous workfare schemes currently in operation. Each requires claimants to work without pay or face possible destitution through sanctions (benefit stoppages), which can last for up to three years. A list of schemes currently in operation can be found at http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=663.
Protests, creative actions and online pickets against workfare will take place on 18-24 March across the UK in a week of action called by the Boycott Workfare network to escalate the campaign against forced unpaid work. More information and a list of actions can be found at http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996.