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29 February 2012

A4e: workfare vultures in crisis

Ian Pattison, Youth Fight for Jobs

On Friday 24 February, as a storm of public anger grew around the Con-Dem government's cheap slave labour workfare schemes, Youth Fight for Jobs protested outside the office of A4e in Westminster armed with chants of "A, A, A4e, tell them we won't work for free!"

A4e is the private company that has won more than 200 million worth of contracts from the government since 2010. It gets young unemployed people to do unpaid work, boosting the fat profits of big business, no more than modern day slave traders. A4e is a poisonous private vulture that has made hundreds of millions exploiting young people.

Fraud allegations

Under pressure, Emma Harrison, now former head of A4e has been forced to resign from her positions as back-to-work-tsar and boss of the company. Harrison paid herself 8.6 million last year.

Harrison made an extra 1.7 million over two years by leasing out numerous properties she already owned, including her family's own stately home for A4e to use, all at the taxpayers' expense.

It's been reported that A4e has been investigated nine times since 2005 and four former employees were arrested recently on suspicion of fraud. The company still has 438 million of contracts with the government.

It has also been revealed that A4e used young unemployed people on the schemes to work for free in their own offices. We need to kick these private vultures out of the public sector and scrap the entire workfare scheme.

At the RMT's young members conference last weekend we agreed to send a message of solidarity to Youth Fight for Jobs' anti-workfare protest and two delegates to the Westfield Workhouse Tour.

"The tenth annual national RMT young members' conference unanimously sends solidarity greetings to the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign and fully supports and wishes you every success with your demonstration."

Emma Linacre, RMT young members vice-chair

Youth Fight for Jobs campaigners led a protest tour of 'Westfield Workhouse' on 25 February. Many of the companies with stores inside Westfield, the biggest shopping centre in Europe, are involved in the government's slave labour workfare schemes. We went round all of these pointing out how much profit they make every year and asking why they can't afford to pay a real wage to their workers. Protests have also taken place at McDonalds in Wakefield, Leytonstone, Whitehall, Lewisham and Sheffield and Burton in Cardiff. See and for reports and photos

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