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Workfare


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From: The Socialist issue 787, 6 November 2013: Nationalise the energy companies

Search site for keywords: Workfare - Cuts - Jobs - Government - Youth Fight for Jobs - Claimants

Build a mass movement to defeat workfare and all cuts

Helen Pattison, Youth Fight for Jobs London

On 30 October the Supreme Court quashed the government's appeal against Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson legal victory over workfare.

Workfare schemes were said to be legally flawed, based on invalid regulations, and didn't give enough information about sanctions if claimants refused the slave-like schemes.

However, this legal victory is very limited. The court announced that workfare is not "forced or compulsory labour" and therefore we will see little change for benefit claimants.

Nor can they claim compensation if they were on a workfare scheme or sanctioned for refusing to do so.

In fact, the government, aided by Labour abstentions, have rushed the retrospective Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act through parliament to make sure they can carry on letting their big business buddies take advantage of workfare schemes.

As a Youth Fight for Jobs campaigner, I can't count how many times I have organised protests inside or outside a workfare employer, or been at rallies listening to previously paid staff forced to work for free, and claimants forced to be a revolving door of free labour for companies bragging about record-breaking profits.

We are not being left on the scrapheap because we don't have the skills or experience for work. Young people are being forced into long-term unemployment or underemployment.

On top of the 2.5 million people chasing 500,000 job vacancies, there is another 5.5 million on zero-hour contracts, many also looking for more permanent and secure employment.

Simple maths show that there aren't enough jobs. The only way to reduce unemployment is public investment in a mass programme of socially useful jobs, with permanent contracts and decent pay.

This is why separate legal cases against the workfare schemes, zero-hour contracts or other attacks can only take us so far. The government of austerity will ultimately side step legal attacks anyway.

A movement, on the other hand, is growing against the government and its mountains of cuts.

Trade unions represent over six million workers who are taking active steps, such as Unite Community supporting Youth Fight for Jobs, to link up the employed and unemployed in the fight against austerity.

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