Security workers at the Jubilee event in London were forced to sleep under London
Bridge, do unpaid work and had no access to toilets for over 24 hours. 30 jobseekers
and 50 on apprentices ‘worked’ for Close Protection UK (CPUK) under the
government’s workfare system.
Downing St refused to see any criticisms and made it clear they would not be
changing its system which profits the rich by providing them with free labour while
threatening to remove the poor’s benefits unless they comply.
This is by no means a one off as workfare is rapidly taking off nationally with more
companies being exposed for profiting from the scheme.
At Tescos we see the unemployed working 40 hours a week for 6 weeks just to
receive their benefit of £53 a week, this works out at just £1.30 an hour. People are
given the impression there might be paid work at the end however less than 40% are offered a job.
Workfare seriously undermines wages and replaces jobs. If multi-millionaire
companies like Tesco’s can get workers from the government for free, then why
would they employ workers they had to pay? The government should demand that big employers, who are making record profits, should create more jobs paid a living wage.
The number of unemployed currently stands at 2.67 million (a rate of 8.9%). The
TUC has suggested that the real figure could in fact be over 6 million. Contrast this with just 400,000 or so vacancies, mainly in the south. In many regions the figure is worse. At the end of 2011 in Hull, there were over 18,000 unemployed chasing less than 500 vacancies.
It is predicted that there will be 500,000 public sector job losses over the next five
years. It is clear that the government intends to use workfare to replace gaps left in
the public sector. It is already doing this within the NHS; under-trained volunteers are
doing eight weeks of unpaid work including cleaning and feeding patients. These are
important aspects of patient care and require full training; it is appalling that untrained
volunteers have such a massive weight on their shoulders.
We need to be fighting back against this government and their scheme which benefits
only the rich. With youth taking the brunt of the unemployment, we are being scapegoated as lazy scroungers if we refuse to take unpaid work.
For professional jobs the situation is even worse, with work in law and the media almost impossible without doing months of unpaid internships.
We don’t say the government owes us a living – but we do say we don’t owe the bankers a bailout.
If money can be found for banks, wars and jubilees, then money can be found to invest in decent, secure jobs, paying living wages – but we’ll have to fight for this to happen.