Salvation Army Fights Back – Calls Critics Of Unpaid Work Offensive

Johnny Void reports how the Salvation Army has responded to criticism of its use of benefit claimants placed on workfare to staff its stores by denying that this constitutes forced labour and referring to the good work the Sally Ann does carrying for the victims of human trafficking. The Void’s article duly criticises this tasteless denial as ‘contemptible’. He in turn cites the cases of sanctioned claimants, who have committed suicide or been forced to go through bins to feed themselves. He also rightly points out that the reference to the horrific evil of human trafficking does not make workfare any the less acceptable in its turn. In all of this The Void is absolutely correct, as is one of his commenters, JD, who notes that the charities are now run as corporations, with the fat cats at the top receiving very good salaries from the generosity and unpaid labour of the charities’ supporters and volunteer staff. I have had first hand experience of the corrosive effect of the corporate mentality on some of the managers in various charities. Way back in the 1990s I did voluntary work for another, non-faith based charity. I left it after a few weeks, however. Although the office manager herself was really good and appreciative, one of the subordinate managers told me that basically I wasn’t doing my job properly. I found this insulting when I was working for nothing, and so handed in my notice. When I mentioned this to a friend of mine a few months ago, he stated that many charities have a very large staff turnover because of the type of managers they recruit. These tend to come from the civil service or business, and still believe they can treat voluntary workers with the same rudeness and officiousness they did when they were in paid work. As a result, many of the volunteer staff are naturally offended by this treatment and lack of consideration, and leave. The Salvation Army appears to have forgotten it is a charity, and that it is dependent on generosity and goodwill, and therefore expected to conform to higher ethical standards than commercial companies and businesses. Many of the religious people, who have supported them are also becoming increasingly disillusioned by the expanding demands the charity makes on them. The stores, for example, are set a quota for the amount of money they must bring in each week. At the same time, the people I know, who give to charity have become dissatisfied with the way charities now demand their supporters to give a set amount of money. These sums can be particularly high for retired people on low incomes. If the Sally Ann, and other charities like it do not change their policies and attitudes, people will simply cease giving to them, and the genuinely volunteer staff may leave. For all I know, this may be already happening, hence the charity’s support for workfare as a way of recruiting new staff. In America the Salvation Army has already faced criticism and controversy because of the way it has been co-opted by government to supply the welfare services that the post-Reaganite state no longer provides. If it is not careful, then its British section will also become similarly discredited. The only solution is for the Salvation Army to stop trying to be business, recognise the moral constraints and commitments that are part and parcel of being a charity, and strongly reject and oppose workfare and the forcible use of the unemployed in their stores.

the void

The Salvation Army hit a new low today after singling out critics on twitter and accusing them of being ‘offensive’ for referring to their workfare programmes as forced labour.

The Salvation Army are one of the UK’s largest advocates for unpaid work – not just condemning people to forced labour in their charity shops but also bidding for lucrative government contracts to manage workfare schemes.  Those who refuse, or are unable to attend workfare face having benefits sanctioned – meaning stopped completely in most cases – for up to three years.This grotesque exploitation from a so-called charity has led to hundreds of people to contact them on twitter @salvationarmyuk and their facebook page to vent their disgust at this abuse of unemployed, sick or disabled benefit claimants.

Today the organisation fought back and ranted at their critics: “It is offensive that you would refer to volunteering and work experience…

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