Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/646/10583
Stop the Con-Dems' slave labour scheme
Fight for real jobs!
On 7 November the Con-Dem government leaked its plans to force the unemployed into unpaid slave labour. 2.5 million people are already out of work and it is estimated that government cuts will mean 725,000 jobs go in the public sector. Another 900,000 job losses in the private sector are forecast as consumer spending drops and private contracts with the public sector are torn up.
Paul Callanan, Youth Fight for Jobs
These proposals amount to the criminalisation of the unemployed. Like community service, people on Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) for over one year will be forced to do menial tasks like painting fences or picking up litter for 30 hours a week for their benefit. The maximum weekly JSA is £65, with less paid to under-25s.
The punishment for refusing this 'work' will be the stopping of JSA for three months. As the government tries to implement its cuts agenda, the unemployed could be used to replace public sector workers on the cheap.
The idea of American style 'workfare' has been trumpeted by the government since the election campaign back in May, and is a pet project of the millionaire Tory work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
Government ministers talk about unemployment as if it is some dirty habit that people need to be weaned off. This shows just how detached from real life they are.
Lib Dem Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the treasury, has said on the BBC's Politics Show that the 'radical reforms' to the welfare system are aimed at getting "the unemployed used to work and increasing employability through workplace experience" and "ensuring that everyone benefits from going out to work".
In reality the reforms will demoralise and demotivate people who can't find work. The unemployed would end up in a cycle of unpaid work, with less time and money to actually look for employment.
To put sanctions on people for being unemployed is entirely unjustified. There are only around 500,000 vacancies now - before the cuts have really bitten. The government should be investing in public services and rolling out a huge programme of public works such as house building and other infrastructure projects to create jobs, rather than slashing them.
Youth Fight for Jobs is organising to fightback against these swingeing attacks on the rights and living standards of young people. We need a huge campaign that links the unemployed, students and workers to fight for real jobs and free education and to beat this government of the rich.
At the Trades Union Congress conference in September the trade union leaders committed themselves to call a national demo against youth unemployment before Christmas. This is now more urgent than ever.
Come to the Youth Fight for Jobs conference.
PCS exposed the problem that there are just not enough jobs for the unemployed to take up, following Iain Duncan Smith's comments that the unemployed should just get on a bus to get a job.
Now there has been media coverage of the government's welfare reform plans about compulsory manual labour for those unemployed workers who cannot get a job.
These proposals are likely to make the situation worse as some employers will rush at the chance to get labour on the cheap. So these plans could reduce the limited number of job vacancies available.
The government should focus instead on job creation so that the unemployed can have a real opportunity to get a job rather than vilifying them in the media.
Katrine Williams PCS civil service union, DWP group vice president
In The Socialist 11 November 2010:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review