Anti-workfare demonstrators blockade Salvation Army shop in Edinburgh





Sunday, December 8, 2013
Sally Army 7 dec 2013 

Demonstrators opposing workfare and sanctions blockaded a large Salvation Army charity shop in central Edinburgh on 7th December.  The approximately 40 protestors included some unemployed people who had themselves been press-ganged to work for nothing in Salvation Army charity shops.

 IF YOU EXPLOIT US WE WILL SHUT YOU DOWN was the clear message on a giant banner which demonstrators held right across the front entrance of the Earl Grey Street shop.  Threats of arrest for obstruction were defied and the blockade continued for two hours.  The police officer in charge could be seen frantically calling on his radio for reinforcements, but no more polis arrived – doubtless due to cutbacks…..  Meanwhile the Rhythms of Resistance samba band raised spirits, improvising some new anti workfare beats…..


The Salvation Army is almost certainly the main user of the Mandatory Work Activity scheme in Edinburgh and Britain-wide is one of the most prominent users of forced labour amongst the charity sector.  Large numbers of unemployed people are being forced onto Mandatory Work Activity in Edinburgh by the Jobcentres, often in clear contradiction to the DWP’s own guidance.  Demo organisers Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP) are fighting several cases where unemployed people are resisting being sent on MWA.  “If you are in this position, being forced onto any workfare scheme, do get in touch to seek solidarity,” say ECAP.

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty say: “We now intend to step up our activity against the Salvation Army to force them to withdraw from workfare.  This supposedly charitable organisation is responsible for people being sanctioned and left penniless after they have been ordered to work for nothing in Salvation Army shops on the Mandatory Work Activity scheme. We call them the Starvation Army.”  

The private company learndirect who run MWA in Edinburgh have stated that they have very few charities willing to be involved in the MWA in Edinburgh due to the controversy caused by charities involvement in the Work Programme, when demonstrators occupied Edinburgh British Heart Foundation shops on several occasions.  So if the Salvation Army can be pressurised to pull out, the whole MWA scheme in Edinburgh could be in real difficulty.  “Our actions are having a real affect,” say Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, “we can be encouraged to step things up and make workfare unworkable.”

The action, organised by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and supported by other groups including Black Triangle and the IWW, was part of the Britain-wide week of action against sanctions and workfare organised through the Boycott Workfare network.  There have been actions in many areas, plus on-line protests, and the preceding fortnight saw intensive leafleting of Edinburgh job centres including High Riggs, Leith, Musselburgh and Wester Hailes. 


EDINBURGH COALITION AGAINST POVERTY is based at the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh (ACE), an open campaign space, infoshop and wholefoods co-op, providing resources and solidarity. Resources available include computer/internet access, cheap copying, free leaflets, books, pamphlets and mags for sale, a small wholefoods shop, and a library.

Every tuesday from 12 noon till 3pm support and solidarity is available for benefits and debt hassles, housing and other problems.  Please contact us at Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty c/o ACE, 17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HA   0131 557 6242   We invite you to join our solidarity phone tree, and get involved.

ACE is also open every Saturday 11am-6pm and Thursday 6-8pm, and other times for particular events (but the support and solidarity sessions are only on Tuesdays).


29 thoughts on “Anti-workfare demonstrators blockade Salvation Army shop in Edinburgh

  1. George says:

    Reading the initial introduction to this story,the word “press ganged” was used and it sums it up just right.As time goes on I should think we will see more and more of such demonstrations and I agree with them 100%.

  2. David Moynagh says:

    It is very heartening to see the active opposition to the diabolical workfare programme. One other disgraceful statistic is the number of sick snd disabled people who have been driven to utter despair and suicide by the policies of the uncaring westminster government. We should all write our concerns to the united nations high commissioner for human rights to have Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith face justice. The address is CRPD Secretariat, UNOG-OHCHR, CH-1211, Geneva 10, Switzerland.

  3. jay says:

    I would like to thank everyone involved in this protest. What you are doing is fabulous.

    This uncharitable organisation should indeed be deservedly renamed The STARVATION Army.

    How they can be involved in this is beyond comprehension and against everything the Christian ethic stands for.

    Do they really think their Thirty Pieces of Silver is worth it?

    They are supposed to help the homeless not be the CAUSE OF IT.

    They are as morally repugnant as the corrupt DWP

  4. keith ackermann says:

    Right on! The Sally Army is the biggest bunch of hypocrites around; like all Paulites! (to give “Christians” their real name). Makes me glad I’m a pagan!

  5. Sam says:

    Katy; I believe you’re wrong – that the S A will back down. But, in any case, protest against iniquity will always, in one way or another, come back to hurt us. The ultimate logic of your plea is, I believe, that we do nothing.

  6. AL says:

    While we motivate MP’s by forcing them to take an 11% pay increase, we motivate the unemployed by santioning and making them work for benefit. These rules were decided by MP’s. Reckon if you want to make an MP work harder, they should take their advice and cut their pay.

    I’m doing great on my 30% pay cut while on appeal. Thoroughly motivated I am. To ring up the doctors and tell them yet again the meds aren’t working and what do we do now to get me actually fit for work? Thank goodness for telephone appointments. I’m too run down to cope with face to face.

    I’m disappointed in the Salvation Army for getting involved in workfare. They are usually proactive in trying to do good. Our local ones are brilliant. They are proud to be called to service. Helping their fellow man. Perhaps in this case, they did not comprehend the coersive nature of the ‘voluntary work’? Personally I’ve nothing against real voluntary work.

  7. colin campbell says:

    We need to spread this type of direct action across the country if we are going to stop this starvation army slave labour.The so- called voluntary sector is a major part of the condem/labour Big Society/Third way agenda of indefinite forced labour for anyone not working,including people with chronic illness regardless of the consequences A secretive political charity called common purpose has trained thousands of “leaders” many of whom are now running these charities(see UK column website for details)
    Poople like katy francis need to wake up and do some research into the results of the policies being inflicted on sick and disabled people.Joe marley’s link to chunkymark youtube(the artist taxi driver)would be a good start or maybe she could read your introduction to black triangle campaign.

  8. Deb Kean says:

    The Salvation Army here in New Zealand would never take part in workfare. I am shocked that the SA there did.

  9. anon says:

    Objecting to the HARMFUL things the Salvation Army (or any other organisation) does, is important. They are losing their direction and need all the constructive feedback the public can give them.

    The SA is at a crossroads where unless they clean up their act and recommit to their tradition of social justice, they will turn into yet another corrupt, profit-driven, greedy and morally bankrupt ngo.

  10. Trevor says:

    The Salvation Army: Belief in Action? More like exploitation in action. Still, well done to the protesters. Never could stand the sanctimonious Sally Army and its fake piety.

  11. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    Using the words,”POOR QUALITY”, is another feeble excuse to try to redefine “COMPLETELY BIASED MEDICAL ASSESSMENT THAT ROBS THE CLAIMANT OF BENEFITS”.

    Toying with words is just another cowardly way of the DWP trying to distance from the horrors, and i mean horrors, that were perpetrated against the people less able to fight back.

    The ongoing attacks against the most vulnerable are being broadcast across the globe and are attracting the attention of HUMAN RIGHTS commissioners.

    Indeed, many people have contacted them after having the benefits afforded to them in respect of their disabilities, stolen…………………

    ATOS and the concealment of it’s contract details are proof enough that the whole game of “medical charades”, was designed exclusively to rob, steal and cheat…….

    What concerns me at the moment, is the amount of pain, suffering and grief that claimants have had to endure.

    You have been subject to DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION, not by a person, but by a government department, the DWP.

    These cowards must be brought to trial and found guilty of the crimes they committed.

    We must pursue these faceless cowards until we get the satisfaction of justice……………….

    No amount of compensation can bring back loved ones who have died as a result of these heinous acts.
    This has been acknowledged by virtue of the fact that the DWP continue to try and hide the escalating death toll from public view………….

    Mutiny is about to be witnessed across our cities. The sooner, the better i think.

    Public outrage is hidden by the puppet media of the government. They saw fit to light the touch paper, just let the fun begin………………..

  12. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    ………….the inglorious DWP, and it’s policy of ethnic cleansing has no boundaries, it seems?

    How embarrassing!

    A heroic woman dubbed the Angel of Woolwich is struggling to survive after ­becoming the latest victim of the Government’s hated Bedroom Tax.

    Ingrid Loyau-Kennett won the heart of the nation when she ran to try and help soldier Lee Rigby after he was hacked to death on a London street last May.

    But now she scrapes by on just a few pounds a week after being hit by the Bedroom Tax and has to choose between paying her council tax or utility bills, reports the Sunday People.

    Ingrid, 49, of Helston, Cornwall, told the Sunday People: “I’m stuck here, poor. There are no jobs. I can’t move. I can’t do anything.

    “I’ve got to pay for the bedroom tax which I don’t have money for. I don’t have a TV any more.
    “What will I have to stop next? The gas? The electricity? The water?

    “The Government doesn’t seem to care. And I’m supposedly a heroine.”

  13. jed goodright says:

    Silly question I know, but what exactly is happening to people being called to Work Capability Assessments that have been deemed discriminatory (again)) by Judges? I ask because this is one of the issues that DID NOT come up this afternoon at the W&P committee with InDeepShit – the deaths of disabled people was ignored also, as was benefit sanctions and the contnued lack of resources in our country for disabled people. What is the fucking point of these people???????????????

  14. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    While people are being asked to wait over six hours in ambulances, none essential operations cut back to a minimum, people thrown on the streets, jobless working for slave employers and disabled robbed of their benefits, we have the prince of clowns throwing £40.1 million down the proverbial, shitter……

    Duncan SMITH is not a comedian, yet his department, the DWP, are employing the biggest fool ever………….

    Which other country would allow, this legend in his own lunch time, the space and power to write off this mind blowing amount on the “GRAND UNIVERSAL CREDIT FUCK UP?”

    How many people do you have to sanction, displace, or drive to death, while Cameron’s crown jester squanders vast amounts on a pie in the sky scheme?

    It’s been proven, time and time again, that a software cannot cope with the multiplexity of social situations that arise from a claim, it is for this reason, that it was always doomed from it’s inception on the back of a fag packet.

    This guy could’nt win a one legged arse kicking contest, yet he is free to waste cash of these proportions………….

    One things for sure, whatever sum the DWP have admitted to, will be a fraction of the real amount that has been blown.

    Telling the truth, and the DWP, don’t exactly go hand in hand, neither does the bottle to admit how many lives have been lost due to ESA and other, dark, draconian, methods of human torture by brown envelope.

    ………..forty fucking million, and the rest, what a fucking joke!

    The travesty of all this is, if you had got £40 they would instigate a major operation to force you to pay it back, sanction you and probably lead you onto the street, homeless………..

    …….and yet the “comedy of errors” continues at our expense….

    1. jed goodright says:

      Agree entirely with you Geoff – boy, you are an angry, lone voice on these boards! – Duncan Shit is an abomination and Cameron is a vile bastard – appeasing the right wing by keeping him in post, cameron is playing the game of life or death with disabled people and the audience just sit and stare. the country’s gone to the dogs and i’m sick of the pain and sick of writing on blogs when what is needed is a mass, violent reaction to rid ourselves of these criminals

  15. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    December 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    My assessment report gives testimony to the facts being unearthed by Spartacus;

    I was seen to sit in a chair, get up unaided, go to a bench, be examined, decline to do seventy five actions that was asked of me, and be observed to stand in one place for the duration of the interview……………………………..

    ATOS is synonymous with many hundreds of deaths that have taken place on our shores.

    Any intention of providing a just, fair medical examination was blown out of the water at the inception, through the closely guarded wording of it’s contract with it’s partner in crime, the inglorious, DWP.

    A helicopter crashes into a pub roof and nine poor souls are robbed of their lives and no stone is unturned to establish the cause,

    Yet millions are undergoing a battle to stay alive, many have perished already, and nothing is said or done……….

    The dual standards of the governments puppet press are suppressing an ETHNIC CLEANSING as i speak……..


  16. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    It goes without saying, that if we now now the DWP and ATOS conspired to steal benefits belonging to disabled, then “Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service”, will be implicated in the conspiracy also……………..

    There is no smoke without fire and both the DWP and HMCTS, will be sleeping in the same bed, although trying to portray an air of complete separation…………………………

    Have you ever thought how it could be humanly possible, for a claimant, robbed of their benefits, to attend a tribunal that has the Queen at it’s head?

    Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals, adjudicating on a case that involves the Welfare Reform Act, that our monarch gave her blessing to, in the form of “Royal Assent”.

    These two departments are linked in several ways, in fact one cannot exist without the other………………….

    Read any documentation on the courts and tribunal service and it will always state that they are fair and independent…..

    This is far from the truth, as the bias is always against the person facing the tribunal or court…….

    You are the subject of a kangaroo court initiated by the state, on behalf of the state, for the state.
    You are guilty and asked to portray your innocence even before you enter the chamber.
    Indeed, the make up of the judges and doctors will have been chosen, not independently, but by intervention.

    The principle of the separation of powers is the cornerstone of an
    independent and impartial justice system. Everyone is entitled to a
    fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal
    established by law as defined by European Court of Human Rights
    Article 6 and EU Charter of Fundamental Rights Article 47.

    The aforesaid, principle of separation of powers are not applied in the uk, they are inextricably linked…………

    Even the DWP decision maker is not independent, as they make decisions on the policies that have been made by their own department, how can this be acceptable, judge and jury rolled into one???

    To illustrate what i am trying to say, the Social Security Act 1998, part 6, dictates the constitution of tribunal appeals. The act provides for the election of the “President”, and dictates the
    procedural and directives of the tribunal in its function.

    Finally, i think i am right in suggesting that the DWP even pays for it…………

    In effect, meaning,


    1. Sam says:

      At grass roots, they’re not such friends, hence 40% successful appeals, and DWP banning the MoJ’s video helping claimants, last year (regret no link).

      1. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

        It would have been a joint decision to withdraw it, i think, they all piss in the same proverbial bucket.

        I have come across magistrates who have been given directives from the police and crown prosecution even before the case has gone into court.

        It’s also common knowledge that if you take a case against customs and excise, you have already lost before the case begins………

        The system is always stacked against you….

        1. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

          Have you seen this Sam?

          From: Andrew Hooper

          3 August 2013

          Dear Her Majesty’s Courts and the Tribunals Service,

          Following my previous FOI Request of 9th April 2013 please provide
          the following:

          a) Copies of documents eg. Agenda, Minutes, Advice etc., of
          management meetings held between HMCTS and the Department of Work &
          Pensions (DWP) since January 2012.

          Specifically, where HMCTS relates to the Tribunals Service dealing
          with DWP Benefits Appeals following ATOS assessments for fitness to

          It is understood that HMCTS provided advice to DWP about how to
          improve its performance at Appeals Tribunals. It is a copy of this
          advice and correspondence that is sought.

          If HMCTS does not explicitly deny that such meetings/advice took
          place then it questions the claimed independence of the Tribunals
          Service and the nature of the relationship between the two
          Departments needs to be explicitly determined.

          Yours faithfully,

          Andrew Hooper

          Link to this

          1. Sam says:

            Certainly germane, but I’m not sure how much such an inter-departmental meeting is a cause for concern. I’d certainly expect some communication.

            However, I have my WCA appeal in January, so what you say is rather important to me… it’s a pity that Hooper doesn’t seem to be following up his query – the snowjob is pretty mild by FoI standards (though it is a snowjob – they knew exactly what info Hooper wanted).

            I think HMCTS would be forthcoming without much pressure. Many at HMCTS have no love for govt or govt departments.

        2. Sam says:

          Certainly germane, but I’m not sure how much such an inter-departmental meeting is a cause for concern. I’d certainly expect some communication.

          However, I have my WCA appeal in January, so what you say is rather important to me… it’s a pity that Hooper doesn’t seem to be following up his query – the snowjob is pretty mild by FoI standards (though it is a snowjob – they knew exactly what info Hooper wanted).

          I think HMCTS would be forthcoming without much pressure. Many at HMCTS have no love for govt or govt departments.

  17. James Andrews says:

    I passed by the protest on Saturday whilst in a bus and wondered what it was about. A wrong decision by the Sally Anne but please do not make them the targets of our wrath. There is only one Tory M.P. in Scotland but there are the Liberals who have colluded and agreed on this iniquity amongst others. Protest outside their surgeries after telling them why. They are already looking into a future political wilderness so heap up the pressure on them and it may be the worms will turn.

  18. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    From: Mr Taylor

    14 July 2013

    Dear Her Majesty’s Courts and the Tribunals Service,

    Please supply information on the number of appeals made to
    Tribunal, to both the First Tier and the Upper Tier, challenging
    Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) decisions by the DWP in
    which the death of the appellant has occurred prior to the appeal
    decision. Also if you have the information please indicate how many
    of these appeals involved the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). In
    both instances for the time scale of 12 months prior to the date of
    this FOI request.

    Yours faithfully,

    Mr Taylor

    Unfortunately, to confirm if the department holds the information you have requested would exceed the cost limits under the legislation.

    The law allows us to decline to answer requests under the Freedom of Information Act when we estimate that it would cost us more than £600 to confirm that the department holds the information requested. You may be interested to know that the limit is equivalent to 3.5 working days’ worth of work, calculated at £25 per hour.

    In this instance to determine if all of the information requested is held we would be required to manually check each appeal file for the Upper Tier to determine whether the appellant had become deceased prior to the appeal decision which equates to £7,275 and exceeds the cost limit of £600.

    We estimate that it takes 4 minutes per file to manually check an appeal file for information retained. Therefore we estimate that 15 files can be checked within 1 hour. The Upper Tier received 4,369 appeals in the last quarter of 2012/2013.

    Using the above information we have calculated the cost by:

    4,369 (case load) divided by 15 (files per hour) equals 291 hours, times by £25 (per hour) equates to £7,275.

    You can find out more about section 12(2) by reading the extract from the Act and some guidance points we consider when applying this exemption, attached at the end of this letter.

    You can also find more information by reading the full text of the Act, available at and further guidance at

    Although we cannot answer your request at the moment, if you refine it so that we can deal with it under the cost limit, then we will take it forward. You may wish to consider, for example, reducing the time period for which you requesting the statistics for.

    In addition, I am pleased to be able to release to you, outside the scope of the Act and on a discretionary basis, the statistics for the First Tier that we have readily available. We hope you find this information below useful.

    You have the right to appeal our decision if you think it is incorrect. Details can be found in the ‘How to Appeal’ section attached at the end of this letter.

    1. Lil says:

      He should have split each separate request into a letter of its own. If he does that now, he should get the info he wants. If he doesn’t, he can go to the information commissioner and complain that HMCTS are refusing to supply info and fobbing him off with a weak excuse. It’s not unheard of for pressure from the commissioner to result in the relevant department deciding to comply with the request(s) anyway, no matter what excuse they’ve used. Former civil servant here.

  19. Humanity2012 says:

    Constant Protests For Social Justice For Decent Benefits and
    against Media Demonisation of the Poor and Vulnerable are
    Needed on a Weekly and probably Daily Basis

  20. Humanity2012 says:

    Do Not be a Couch Potato a Football Sheep or an Alcohol

    Stand Up For Social Justice through Sociaist Policies

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