You seem to have had an issue loading this page or you have javascript disabled, which may cause problems while using Change.org. To avoid any further inconvenience, please enable javascript in your browser and refresh this page.
ASDA & Topshop: End the unpaid #workfare scheme
  • Petitioned CEO

This petition was delivered to:

The Arcadia Group

ASDA & Topshop: End the unpaid #workfare scheme

    1. James Moorehead
    2. Petition by

      James Moorehead

      Teesside, United Kingdom

The workfare scheme is exploiting unemployment, not solving it -- it's putting more people out of work at a time of high unemployment by giving large companies like ASDA, Poundland & Topshop free temporary staff.

The Government says that it’s putting people on the job ladder but having been through the scheme myself it’s more of a barrier to employment than a help. That's why I'm asking for all partners to stop participating in the workfare scheme and provide proper employment schemes for those on Job Seekers Allowance.

I’m a qualified computer games programmer and finished university last year but have found it hard to find work so started claiming job seekers allowance whilst I was looking. I was made to participate in the Government's Workfare scheme at Maplin Electronics store for 8 weeks as the Job Centre told me that it was the only way I'd be able to gain experience to get a job - if I didn't participate I could risk my benefit.
Whilst there I performed the same duties as their staff for no pay or extra allowance, the Job Centre also told me that I wouldn't be able to take a day off should an interview or such thing that could benefit me in my search for full-time work appear.

I understand the need to gain experience to get a job but the whole idea of unpaid placements like this are unfair. We're doing the same amount of hours and work as actual employees and temp staff are doing, and we're doing it just as well but with no guarantee of a job at the end of it, meaning it could potentially be all for nothing.

The Government say they’re helping people get jobs but really they’re keeping people unemployed by forcing them into unpaid labour.

Companies who are making huge profits in a time when unemployment is at its peak should be paying the people who work for them, not exploiting them. A Tesco manager even told a workfare participant that they had no incentive to hire extra staff when they could get people for free for six weeks.

Already Waterstones, Sainsbury's, TK Maxx, Matalan & Maplin have pulled out of the scheme. Join me and tell the CEOs of ASDA, Poundland and Topshop (Arcadia Group) to stop participating in the workfare scheme and instead to provide proper paid work-experience for those who work there.

Find out more:

Young jobseekers told to work without pay or lose unemployment benefits
Tens of thousands of unemployed people made to work without pay
Boycott Workfare

Recent signatures


    1. My appearance on Channel 4 News

      James Moorehead
      Petition Organizer

      The other night I appeared on Channel 4 news regarding my own experience with the workfare and also discuss the letter received by the DWP when on the scheme which doesn't make any mention of it being voluntary.

    2. ASDA Harrogate take on workfare 'volunteers' and upset full-time staff.

      James Moorehead
      Petition Organizer

      Last night Channel 4 ran a report on an ASDA store in Harrogate which took on 12 unemployed over Christmas under the workfare scheme. They reported that full-time staff complained about this due to the fact that their own hours had been cut.

    3. Reached 2,000 signatures
    4. Poundland withdraw from workfare scheme

      Brie Rogers Lowery
      Country Director, UK

      "We have taken recent findings about the mandatory work programme candidates very seriously and with further investigation have decided to withdraw from the initiative," said chief executive, Jim McCarthy.

      Poundland would continue to talk to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to ensure no jobseeker was penalised for dropping out of a placement, as opposed to the current system under which participants can lose some benefits if they drop out without "good reason" after the first week.

    5. Reached 1,500 signatures


    Reasons for signing

      • almost 2 years ago

      Is exploitation and takes jobs from others

      • almost 2 years ago

      End slave labour!

      • about 2 years ago

      I don't mind If it was labelled a job but No to them your just unemployed people being punished ..not trained I know I've taken part,Its just an abuse of power

    • Helen Thompson PRESTON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • about 2 years ago

      workfare is only in the public good if said people work for charities and good causes, how is a museum not a good cause? She was told to drop her museum voluntary job for poundland !? The point is to get people into work not help corrupt companies get free labour. http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/aug/06/unpaid-work-scheme-ruled-lawful-poundland?newsfeed=true

    • oliver mitchell ABERYSTWYTH, UNITED KINGDOM
      • over 2 years ago

      The workfare scheme is exploiting unemployment, not solving it


    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the Change.org API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.