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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 December 2012

Workfare schemes failing: We need real job creation

James Ivens

We will never be good enough. Millions strong and most of us young, all of us ready to work. We will never be good enough for Iain Duncan Smith.

Results for year one of the coalition's welfare-to-work scheme arrived last week. The targets were not overly ambitious.

Only 5.5% on placements needed to find jobs. They only needed to keep them for six months. And with only 3.5% making it, they couldn't even manage that.

But Iain Duncan Smith forgives! He explained to the BBC: "how difficult that is for people who have been, you know, scarred by being out of work for a long time."

Perhaps it would be easier, Iain, if you weren't filling positions with unpaid placements.

Workfare puts long-term jobseekers in workplaces.

Adding to the problem

Inflation has driven up living costs with no real pay increase. Even so, poverty wages still mean more than the dole.

But if you're on workfare, you're not paid wages. You are 'paid' your dole. If you decline? Your dole is withdrawn. This is slave labour.

The government's goal is giving the jobless "skills" and "experience" to make them more employable. This focus on our supposed failings is a transparent ploy to shift the blame.

The screamingly obvious reality is there are more jobseekers than vacancies. A child could see that letting employers take unpaid labour means still fewer paid jobs.

Duncan Smith points to improved figures for June and July. These were the months of the Jubilee and Olympics. We'll just have those every year, shall we?

And most of those taking part have skills well beyond the shelf stacking and till operating offered. Limited only to these skills, the government is treating us as nothing more than workfare lackeys.

The pathetic 'achievement' of 3.5% of those on workfare finding six months' work is also questionable.

Six months is not a career. And 10.5% of the workforce, like me, is "underemployed" - not working enough hours to make ends meet.

While the bosses' politicians point the finger at workers, Serco, A4e and others grow fat on the proceeds of enforcing workfare scams. This programme is a naked ideological assault from head to Tory toe.

The Socialist Party says scrap slave labour. Use the money to invest in real jobs for all on a living wage - for life, not just six months. For free education, proper training and decent benefits with no compulsion.

Unemployed and working for free? We're more than good enough. It's Iain's class that's holding us down.

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In The Socialist 5 December 2012:


 

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