The wealthy have never liked to pay for the labor that enriches them. Ever since slavery was eliminated, they have been trying to keep it as close to slavery as they can without violating the slave laws.
Would you like to work for thirty hours each week for no pay. No of course not, such an idea is unacceptable. Yet the government are demanding that the unemployed work this number of hours for their benefit. Jobseekers allowance is not a wage, it is paid for one purpose only and that is to support those who are unemployed whilst they look for work. It is not payment for work. If it were the payment would be ridiculously low and therefore unlawful. On the lowest rate of £56.25 per week for those between the ages 16 to 24 it would amount to working for about £1.90 per hour. Not enough for even a single person to live on, let alone anyone with a family – by age twenty-four of course a man or woman could well have a family to support. It is inadequate as a benefit, it is inadequate as a wage.
In reality Workfare schemes are exploitative systems of free labour often undertaken whilst working for some of the biggest retailers in the UK, such as Tessco, ASDA and Boots. Charities have also taken part in these schemes, most notably the Salvation Army who were once the champions of the poor and the downtrodden. Oxfam have decided not to participate in the government’s workfare schemes because it undermines their work with the poor here in the UK. A sign of the changing times: when I worked for Oxfam a couple of decades ago their work did not include poor people here in the UK. There wasn’t the need.
Please join Boycott Workfare’s action week to bring an end to forced unpaid labour here in the UK.
Our action can stop companies, charities and councils from exploiting forced unpaid work and make sure this new scheme falls flat on its face. Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 29 March-6 April.
Read more and take action: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3353
Included in the above link are a number of actions you can take, please don’t feel overwhelmed, take as many actions as you can, even if it is to write only one letter or e-mail to participating councils, charities and businesses. Their is something everyone can do from writing letters to picketing retailers such as Peacocks.
This link will take you to a list of companies and organisations known to have used or be using Workfare
Among other actions the next link will provide you with a template letter for you to download which you can adapt to send to companies profiting from workfare and also a template letter which you may adapt and send to your MP along with their contact details
http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=82n – You can also download a poster such as the one above to print out or put on your website or blog or share on Facebook.
There are more actions you can take further down
Remember workfare affects us all. If you loose your job and claim Jobseekers allowance you could be required to participate in Workfare. If you are claiming Employment and Support Allowance ESA and have been allocated to the Work Related Activity Group WRAG you may be sent to Workfare. Workfare is not voluntary. All three political parties consider it right to force people to work for no wages, so nothing will change after the next election. Workfare does not help people to find jobs. Workfare increases the already over inflated profits of big companies and Work programme providers, it gives millions of the tax payers’ money to the one percent while depriving the 99 percent of a decent standard of living and quality of life. In some way or another we are all affected, even if not personally you are likely to know someone who is, maybe a loved one such as a son or daughter, a sibling, a friend even your granny – if you are of working age you are not exempt.
More about Workfare
Here in the UK Workfare refers to government schemes whereby welfare precipitants must undertake work in return for their benefit payments or risk losing them. For example, people on one Workfare scheme, Mandatory Work Activity MWA, can be compelled to work without pay for a month or have their benefit cut for up to three years. As already mentioned it is not only unemployed recipients of Job seekers allowance who are forced to take part in Workfare schemes, but sick and disabled people may also have to join the Workfare programme if they have been assigned to the WRAG of ESA
Mandatory Work Activity will be replaced by the government’s new Help-to-Work scheme from April 2014 .
A New scheme “Community Work Placements”launching on 1 April 2014 will force claimants to work for six months without pay. Six months – 780 hours – is more than twice the maximum community service sentence.
More Action for you to take
There are in addition to the above schemes less obvious Workfare programmes such as Traineeships, a crafty way of introducing workfare for private companies. Unemployed people between the age of 18 and 21 will be forced to attend either a Traineeship, other unpaid work experience position or face a Community Work Placement.
Please read the following from the Void: Let’s Make Shoezones’s Workfare Scheme Fall Apart Faster Than Their Shoes
Traineeships are the latest attempt by the Tories to introduce workfare for private companies by stealth. There is no pretence that Traineeships will lead to a real job with proper wages. According to the DWP these schemes, which can involve up to six months of unpaid work, are to ‘prepare’ people for becoming Apprentices, at below the minimum wage.
Read more and take the recommended actions:
Traineeships are not apprenticeships. Note the comment in the above article from a representative of Shoe Zone concerning what “training” young people can expect if they work for free at Shoezone : “greeting customers and assisting them with their purchases, training on the till, dealing with stock replenishment and deliveries, and general tidying and store presentation.”
Does that sound like an apprenticeship to you? Not wishing to demean shop work as I have been employed myself in retail, but no way is this kind of work an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships when I left school were for skilled trades such as a car mechanic or a hairdresser. Apprentices where never paid well but they were paid and apprentices learnt a trade, a skill. Work in retail as a sale assistant is not an apprenticeship. For my first job in retail I received a proper wage, it may have been slightly less than for a more experienced member of staff, but it was a wage nonetheless and after a short time of only a few months I was paid a full wage. I was trained on the job. The above “skills” can be learnt in a couple of weeks or so most likely less, as for deliveries and replenishments these would be specific to shoe Zone and not applicable else where.
Workfare in all its guises is an unjust scheme which benefits the rich by providing them with profit as a result of compulsory free labour, it is a means of coercing the poor by threatening them with the removal of their benefits without which they cannot provide food for themselves or their families, or heat their homes or pay rent – not that the meagre benefit adequately covers these costs of course but to find yourself with no money at all is unthinkable.It also means less paid jobs are available for the unemployed and it undermines wages. For example last Christmas ASDA sent home paid staff and replaced them with people forced to work for nothing on the workfare scheme.
Workfare is slave labour, it is unethical, exploitative and not worthy of any modern socially progressive society which considers itself just .
There are a number of workfare schemes
Help to Work Scheme: 2 Minute Guide:
http://www.money.co.uk/article/1009976-help-to-work-scheme-2-minute-guide.htm – provides basic matter-of- fact information
Read more about Workfare from Boycott Workfare
It is not only private businesses and charities who take advantage of this pool of free labour, councils across the country have made use of half a million hours of unpaid work as a result of this unfair system. Newport council has used 112 people, mainly in its street cleaning and rubbish collection department for about four weeks at a time. Scarborough council has used 120 people. Bexley borough council in London has taken more than 100 unpaid placements.
Please help the Workfare Action Week by clicking the following link if you have not already done so and take as much action as you can.
And please spread the word.