Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/675/12219
Say no to government's slave labour programme
Paul Callanan, Youth Fight for Jobs, national organiser
Last week the government unveiled its national back-to-work scheme - the 'Work Programme'. Yet again this Bullingdon Boys' government wants to make the most vulnerable in society pay for a crisis caused by their big business mates.
The scheme will see up to 30 hours a week of "work placements" provided for Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) claimants. This effectively amounts to the punishment of the unemployed; if you can't find a job then you are forced to work for free.
The government has obviously taken little heed of the fact that there are too few jobs out there. Currently there are around 2.5 million people unemployed in the UK (including nearly one million young people), and this is before the full impact of the Con-Dem cuts, which will put over a million more people out of work, have been truly felt.
Rather than being a "matter of deep regret" as David Cameron put it; the government sees unemployment as an opportunity for its business mates to save a bit of money. Businesses and voluntary organisations are queuing to take taxpayers' money to pressurise vulnerable people into taking low-paid work.
Among the companies lining up for the lucrative contracts are privatisation giants Serco and G4S. Under the programme's 'payments by results' scheme, participants can expect to receive £4,050 for a JSA claimant aged 18-24 and up to £13,120 for an ex-incapacity benefit claimant.
But even 'incentivised' private contractors will struggle to find jobs for claimants in areas of high unemployment.
The Work Programme is not providing opportunities for long term unemployed people or an incentive to work but it is providing the rich with a source of slave labour. It is reminiscent of the workhouses in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The programme will trap people in a cycle of working poverty as these companies realise that is cheaper to keep someone on for a temporary period rather than give them a permanent job and start paying them the minimum wage.
The only way a real alternative to unemployment and Con-Dem austerity can be built is through mass action. That is why Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) will be marching from Jarrow to London later this year to mark the 75th anniversary of the 1936 unemployed workers' march.
We will be saying no to all cuts, opposing slave labour schemes and calling for the nationalisation of the banks and major monopolies to protect and provide jobs. We demand that the government provides real jobs and pays a living wage for them. We will take to the streets in October to say that we will not pay for the bosses' crisis but we will fight for jobs and services.
For details of Jarrow YFJ march see: www.jarrow2london2011.wordpress.com
In The Socialist 15 June 2011:
Fighting the cuts
NHS news & campaigning
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis