Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Protests against Workfare and Tescos Grow – Latest.

with 58 comments

 
Joseph O'Brien
Joe380Joseph O’Brien

 
Tills have been closed in #Tesco Westminster #workfare http://pic.twitter.com/EDcsqdhD
 
Tesco, Portcullis House, Bridge St, Westminster, SW1A 2JR – opposite Parliament
10am,

Background.

From the Guardian here.

[We hear that despite Tescos claim that this is all a mistake not only the above but further  protests are going ahead. One group involved is the Right to Work campaign – here]

“The supermarket giant has amended an advert looking for permanent workers in exchange for expenses and jobseeker’s allowance, saying it was a mistake.

Twitter and Facebook users had highlighted the advert for a night shift worker at a store in west Suffolk on the Jobseekers’ Plus website. It was offered under the Government’s “sector-based work academy scheme” which is linked to payment of benefits – but Tesco said the impression that it was seeking to replace full-time workers was mistaken.

The error comes after unions called for high street chains to withdraw from Government programmes that require the unemployed to work for up to six months or face losing their benefits.

Tesco has explained that the advert was “a mistake caused by an IT error by Jobcentre Plus” which was being rectified. It was an advert for work experience with a guaranteed job interview at the end of it as part of a Government-led work experience scheme.

However, right to work campaigners are pressing on with the protest, at Tesco in Portcullis House, opposite the Houses of Parliament. A spokesman for the protesters said: “Tesco reports that over the past four months some 1,400 people have worked for them without pay. Only 300 got a job with the company.

“The Tory Government is slashing jobs and then punishing the jobless. And to add insult to injury, they are forcing people to work for free to boost profits for big business. That’s why we will be demanding that workfare be scrapped immediately.”

Sam James, joint national chair of Right to Work, said: “This is another example of working class people being forced to pay for a crisis created by the greed of the rich. Tesco is cashing in on people’s misery. Perhaps this is what it means by ‘every little helps’.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “We would never offer longer term work on an unpaid basis. The Department for Work and Pensions has acknowledged that the advertisement was an error on the part of JobCentre Plus. Work experience at Tesco should, wherever possible, be a pathway to a paid job with Tesco.”

A DWP spokeswoman said: “As we made clear on Thursday, this role was incorrectly described and advertised by Jobcentre Plus; not by Tesco – there was no error whatsoever on their part.”

See Boycott Workfare for more information on the campaign.

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 18, 2012 at 11:15 am

58 Responses

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  1. Nice the see the SWP and the SWP front the “Right to Work” jumping on the bandwagon. Where are these f*uckers when you need them – why do they always crawl out of the woodwork at the most opportune times in order to further their own agenda?

    Ex-SWP

    February 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm

  2. Wonder how many of their f*ucking newspapers the middle-class treacherous c*unts sold?

    Ex-SWP

    February 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    • Quite a few, old bean 🙂

      Alex Callinicos - SWP

      February 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      • Callinicos – you are a typical example of an Oxbridge educated toff who spends his whole life in academia and makes a very good living out of a system which he denounces while ludicrously leading a ‘workers’ party…..and you’re a c*unt. F*uck you!

        I Bone

        February 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      • Mr Bone old chap, when the f*uck are you going to apologise for calling me a c*unt?

        Alex Callinicos - SWP

        February 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      • F*uck off! – c*unt!

        Ian Bone

        February 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm

  3. Even if the Work Experience scheme is made entirely voluntary, instead of half voluntary as it is at the moment due to the requirement to attend on the first day, and then the additional requirement to complete the entire scheme after the first week, it is still not alone in the Government’s arsenal of mandatory schemes to punish the unemployed.

    Don’t forget the Mandatory Work Activity Scheme – it’s still on the go…

    …and don’t forget the longer and harsher Community Action Programme, already being tested in selected areas, and due to be rolled out in full next year.

    Some big stores, like Sainsbury’s, although now taking an apparent altruistic line by condemning mandatory workfare, seem to have forgotten or overlooked the fact that the Work Experience scheme is not entirely voluntary – and even if it was it still has failings in it as follows:

    Like all other Government schemes for the unemployed, the Work Experience scheme is a short term palliative, in other words it is not a credible or viable solution to long term unemployment. It is also not a long term solution to any kind of unemployment!

    The other major flaw is the tendency for these schemes to become counter-productive – especially when these schemes claim to enhance someone’s CV so as to improve future employment prospects. Too many people are being dumped into these schemes, the counter-productive result being that no one has any net advantage over anyone else when it comes to CV enhancement – and, given that these schemes have got nothing to do with job creation in the first place, they can make no difference to the perennial competition faced by all jobseekers who inevitably return to the treadmill of mandatory jobsearch afterwards!!

    Employers are only interested in real experience of real work in the real world, and that type of real employment simply does not exist – and there is no getting away from that harsh fact.

    A final word on the claptrap being spouted about the “hidden jobs market” as the great panacea for the moral disease of unemployment. They don’t tell you about the HIDDEN unemployment figures – thought to be around 6.3 Million – largely comprised of people who work part-time but who would like to work full-time, but can’t, because these real jobs simply do not exist.

    As I said, there is no getting away from that harsh fact.

    Tobanem

    February 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm

  4. Well said Tobanem! I couldn’t agree more. It seems so bleeding obvious one wonders why there’s even a debate about it.
    On a slightly different note watch A4e get a mild kicking form the local BBC here:

    Gissajob

    February 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm

  5. Don’t forget the MANDATORY WORK TRIAL scheme – that one too is still on the go.

    It seems Sainsbury’s are condemning the mandatory Work Trial scheme, but are favouring the apparently “voluntary” Work Experience scheme – but as I have said above, the Work Experience scheme is not entirely voluntary!

    Tobanem

    February 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    • There is nothing “voluntary” about a scheme where someone on the “work programme” can be “mandated” to carry out an “activity” under pain of benefit sanctions such as applying for one of these “voluntary” schemes.

      Babs

      February 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      • FAO Babs

        Yes, I agree with your comments about the mandatory Work Programme.

        Once someone is on the Work Programme they must obey everything they are told – even when there is no rational or statutory basis to it – otherwise the “big mandatory stick” is brought out to threaten and subdue the terrified recipients into submission and compliance.

        Note, though, one area where the big mandatory stick will backfire on Work Programme providers is where they try to coerce a volunteer.

        YOU CANNOT HAVE A MANDATORY VOLUNTEER. THERE IS NO SUCH THING.

        A mandatory volunteer would be a conscript, who, in a civilian workplace, would be a forced labourer!

        Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 in England, and Section 47 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, both outlaw forced or compulsory labour.

        Forced or compulsory labour is defined as:

        “ALL WORK OR SERVICE WHICH IS EXACTED FROM ANY PERSON UNDER THE MENACE OF ANY PENALTY AND FOR WHICH THE SAID PERSON HAS NOT OFFERED HIMSELF/HERSELF VOLUNTARILY”.

        That definition from the International Labour Organisation lends itself well to those mandatory referrals onto various workfare schemes.

        Tobanem

        February 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    • Help, I’m tying myself in knots over all these “mandatory” and “voluntary” work schemes.

      Apparently, the Work Trial scheme is “voluntary”. Is that always the case, I wonder?

      The procedure with the Work Experience scheme is much more convoluted. The Work Experience scheme is mandatory for the first day, because you must attend on that first day, then it is voluntary for the rest of that first week; thereafter it is mandatory!!!

      No wonder I’m tying myself in knots!!!

      It seems I got a bit mixed up (no wonder) when commenting in my previous post above about Sainsbury’s and their view of workfare. Here is a link to a report about Sainsbury’s connection with workfare:

      http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=376

      It will be interesting to monitor the “voluntary” and “mandatory” content of all these schemes from now on.

      Tobanem

      February 20, 2012 at 9:14 am

  6. […] is getting into hot water over it’s slave labour policies. The first of many protests in Westminster this […]

    Saturday’s London Links

    February 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

  7. Off topic I know but if you want a bit of light relief
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2102892/Living-state–Inside-16-bedroom-42-loo-mansion-Governments-families-tsar-8-5m-payday-provoked-outrage.html
    The Daily Mail (yes that Daily Mail) continues its attack on the blessed Enemma – I almost feel sorry for her.

    Gissajob

    February 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm

  8. The point is not who is protesting, only what they do.

    As the autonomist saying goes, “the autonomy acts, it does not speak.”

    Unlike, apparently Boney and his mates.

    Autonomist

    February 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm

  9. Autonomist

    February 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    • WTF is that woman shouting: “Petrol prices must come down” – up yours you middle-class 4 x 4 driving wanker!

      Anarchy

      February 18, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      • Glasgow Tesco Protest,

        “Today at the Tesco’s store a noisy demonstration of over 20 people briefly occupied the supermarket chanting ‘ Tesco bosses hear us say …. we won’t work for NO PAY.

        The protest, organised by Glasgow Right to Work campaign, called at short notice was joined by the unemployed, students, pensioners, Unison and PCS members and the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network.
        Over 600 RTW Tesco’s flyers were handed out to the passing public who where 100% supportive and outraged at Tesco’s.”

        Andrew Coates

        February 19, 2012 at 10:31 am

      • lol: “Petrol prices the same as the USA”, what has this got to do with workfare?

        Earwig

        February 19, 2012 at 11:18 am

  10. […] Editors say: see by contrast Ipswich Unemployed Action. Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailMoreStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  11. A DWP spokeswoman said: “As we made clear on Thursday, this role was incorrectly described and advertised by Jobcentre Plus; not by Tesco – there was no error whatsoever on their part.”

    Has anyone else noticed how the DWP is prepared to take full responsibility for this advert, and Tesco none. This is because Tesco’s customers are boycotting them, while the DWP’s ‘customers’ can’t boycott the Job Centre (not if they want their benefits). This is building up a head of steam, even people who despise the unemployed are against Workfare. Before long businesses will be afraid to use this vindictive slave labour for fear of being boycotted and bad publicity. We can kill this. Don’t let Labour jump on the bandwagon, it was they who introduced Workfare, and they who failed to repeal the Job Seekers Act (as well as allowing unlimited immigration and failing to stop off-shoring of British jobs).

    Blackpool Lad

    February 18, 2012 at 7:30 pm

  12. Hmmm? I’m pretty sure that it actually was a mistake like Tesco and the DWP claim, the ‘permanent’ bit that is!

    Before you think WTF am I on! I do have this correct don’t I?
    It is the ‘permanent’ part of the ad that really caught peoples attention was it not?
    I mean I know such ads are bad enough regardless, it’s the mistake of putting the vacancy as permanent that has caused the fuss. If that ad had not said permanent I wonder if it would have had the same level of response.
    But it’s moot now, and their ‘mistake’ has shone a well needed light on this whole disgusting issue. So that’s good in itself.
    It is of course wrong even if it was for 2 weeks or 4, would be especially wrong for 6 months.
    Just wrong full stop, regardless of this alleged ‘mistake’.

    The ad being for night work! That alone is taking the piss.
    Was that a mistake too? Work like a dog overnight and you ‘may’ have a crack at an interview? If you’re not sweating then no chance mate!
    Tesco aren’t claiming the whole ad was a mistake are they?
    Night work demands a higher hourly rate! Hmmm? Crafty bastards.

    Facts are the only thing that will further the cause to get rid of these nasty schemes. Hence I am asking!
    Vitriol and uncontrolled emotion will not.
    I am not afraid of being put right if my knowledge falls short.

    Fuck their claims of a clerical error, Expecting people to do X amount of weeks stacking shelves overnight for their JSA is equally as bad as this supposed error in my opinion.

    The pressure need to be kept up, but not to degenerate into a ego led farce that large quarters of other protest movements often seem to become susceptible to.
    Here’s hoping that it stays sensible and that it wont simply be ignored like so many other protests.

    Mr No

    February 18, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    • Another Tescos ‘job’:

      CUSTOMER ASSISTANT – TESCOVacancy from
      Job No:WOF/22786
      SOC Code:7111
      WageTRAVEL EXPENSES
      Hours32 HOURS PER WEEK OVER 7 DAYS BETWEEN APPROX 6AM – 11PM
      LocationHOYLAND. BARNSLEY S74
      DurationPermanent
      Date posted17 February 2012Pension detailsNo details held

      Description
      This is a Work Experience opportunity for people aged 18-24 years old and mainly claiming JSA for 13 weeks or more. This is an excellent opportunity to gain a full insight into the operation of a Tesco Express Store. . *** Customers to e-mail CV & covering letter stating suitability and interest in the position *** PLEASE DONOT CONTACT TESCO DIRECT, you must apply through the Jobcentre.

      Andrew Coates

      February 19, 2012 at 10:26 am

  13. ‘Ello, Ello. Ello!, What’s going on ‘ere then?’
    Plod is back at the offices of a4greed investigating possible fraud:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2103252/Back-work-tsar-centre-fraud-probe-claims-funding-went-jobs-lasting-just-day.html
    Apparently they may have been caliming pay outs for jobs that lasted just one day. Astonishingly this may well have been perfectly legal so don’t get your hopes up that we’ll be seeing the Blessed Enemma banged up just yet.

    Gissajob

    February 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

    • Ipswich Unemployed Action has received this communication re. A4E/Fraud Investigation.

      “We are sorry to heart of Emma Harrison’s travails.

      Should she require new contracts her Back-to-Work skills are needed here.

      With the expansion of our business we have many work experience placements in the Middle part of the country.

      We are an Equal Opportunities Employer.

      Yours faithfully,

      Mr Sauron.

      Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
      Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

      P.O Box 1. Mordor.”

      Andrew Coates

      February 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm

  14. Sweden snow: Man ‘survives two months trapped in car’

    A Swedish man has survived being trapped in his snow-covered car for two months without food, police say.

    The car was found on Friday at the end of a forest track more than 1 km (0.6 miles) from a main road in northern Sweden.

    Police say the temperature in the area had recently dropped to -30C (-22F).

    The man, who was too weak to utter more than a few words, said he had been inside since 19 December. He may have survived by drinking melted snow.

    Police say they have no reason to doubt his story.

    Sleeping bag

    The man, who has not been named, is recovering at Umea University Hospital – where staff say he is doing well considering the circumstances.

    The 45-year-old was discovered by snowmobilers who initially assumed the car was a wreck until they dug their way to a window and saw movement inside, reported the Vasterbotten Courier newspaper.

    The man was huddled in a sleeping bag on the back seat, said policeman Ebbe Nyberg.

    “He was in a very poor state. Poor condition. He said he’d been there for a long time and had survived on a little snow.

    “He said himself he hadn’t eaten anything since December,” Mr Nyberg said.

    Doctors at the Umea University Hospital said they would normally expect a person to survive without food for around four weeks, said the Vasterbotten Courier.

    One doctor told the newspaper that the man might have survived so long by going into a kind of hibernation.

    Sweden snow: Man ‘survives two months trapped in car’

    The BBC

    February 19, 2012 at 11:11 am

  15. Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/9091105/Critics-of-Government-work-experience-programme-are-jobs-snobs-says-minister.html

    Critics of Government work experience programme are ‘jobs snobs’, says minister
    Chris Grayling, the employment minister, hits out at the critics of a flagship Government scheme to combat joblessness amongst the young.

    It’s time for an end to these inaccurate and hypocritical attacks on the Government’s work experience programme. Much of the criticism is factually wrong, much of it is simply job snobbery.

    Any level of youth unemployment is too high. When this Government took office, it was already at nearly a million, with tens of thousands more young people hidden by the previous Government on schemes which kept them off the unemployment register. It was a simply dreadful inheritance.

    Since then we have been working as hard as we can to tackle the problem, in the teeth of what Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King has described as possibly the most difficult set of economic circumstances that this country has ever faced in peacetime.

    The biggest challenge that those young people face in a difficult job market is that age-old problem – you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without having a job. So that first move into the workplace is vital.

    A key part of our strategy for young unemployed people is about giving them that first chance to impress, about getting them into the workplace and giving them the opportunity to show the value they can offer to an employer.

    From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Grayling

    Life and career of Chris Grayling.

    Grayling joined BBC News in 1985 as a trainee, becoming a producer in 1986. He left the BBC in 1988 to join Channel 4 as an editor on its Business Daily programme. He rejoined the BBC in 1991 as a business development manager on BBC Select. On leaving the BBC in 1993, he ran several television production companies, including managing the corporate communications division of Workhouse Ltd from 1992-5 and SSVC Group in Gerrards Cross from 1995-7. He became a management consultant in 1997 with Burson Marsteller, where he remained until his election to Westminster. (2001)”

    “Expenses claimsBetween 2001 and 2009,[7] Grayling claimed for a flat in Pimlico, close to the House of Commons, despite having a constituency home less than 17 miles away[8] and owning two buy to let properties in Wimbledon.[9] Grayling says he uses the flat when “working very late” because he needs to “work very erratic and late hours most days when the House of Commons is sitting.”[10]

    During the Parliamentary expenses scandal, The Daily Telegraph reported that Grayling refitted and redecorated the flat in 2005 at a cost of thousands of pounds. Grayling said that both the water and electrical systems failed “leaving the place needing a major overhaul”.[9].

    Burson Marsteller,

    “At times it has also been the subject of protests and criticism for its use of smearing and doubt campaigns (to undermine concerns about passive smoking for Philip Morris in the 1990s and anti-Google smear campaigning for Facebook in 2011)[2][3] and its work for regimes facing severe human rights criticisms (Argentina and Indonesia). ”

    Grayling was working for this company 1997 – 2001.

    Andrew Coates

    February 19, 2012 at 11:29 am

    • Well at least the majority of the comments there see through Graylings pathetic spin.

      ck

      February 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm

  16. The Work Experience scheme is just one of the governments unpaid labour
    schemes. Its the one they want us to concentrate on, as it contains a
    ‘voluntary’ element, in order to deflect attention from the fully
    compulsory schemes.

    Under the DWP’s own figures 24,010 jobseekers were referred to work
    for four weeks, for 30 hours a week, unpaid labour under the
    government’s Mandatory Work Activity between May – November 2011.

    MWA
    is compulsory if claimants fail to comply their benefits are stopped.
    Don’t allow the government and these rogue retailers to spin the
    voluntary spiel, the Work experience scheme might loosely be described
    as ‘voluntary’ but MWA certainly isn’t.

    If the claimants refuse to work unpaid they have their benefits
    removed for 13 weeks. A second failure to take part means benefits are
    removed for six months.This is the situation in place at the moment the
    government are proposing that a third refusal of MWA will result in
    benefits being removed for 3 years

    Victim of the State

    February 19, 2012 at 11:56 am

    • Yes, but not just on the forced labour side… there should never be work experience for low end jobs like retail shelf-stacking – it must be paid work.

      One could argue it helps employers, which has a knock on effect… but even if we added that exception, giants like Tesco has no excuse not to pay people.

      Furthermore, it has no real benefit for those involved in such work… unpaid experience has little value to an employer.

      Back-in-the-day… you were either:

      Self-employed
      Employed
      Volunteer

      The latter has to be for non-profit, community or charity work. As a volunteer you were doing it because you wanted to – in addition to having a paid job or not.

      Of course, there were internships (some unpaid – a compromise for graduates – in effect a bargaining tool to ensure you get such experience after gaining the qualifications) and work experience for school children which emphasis on education aspect not any of this training nonsense.

      Ignoring the welfare to work schemes that implemented some form of work experience somewhere as will complicate things… this “Work Experience” scheme is nothing short of workfare.

      You don’t volunteer to work for a profitable business in a low end sector like retail. You might volunteer at a solicitor firm after getting a law degree to get your foot in the door…

      It isn’t volunteering – its a scam of “technicalities” to get around the minimum wage. So sanctions aside, and being mandated aside; it must be made illegal for a big employer to take on stuff without paying them.

      If some jobseeker who doesn’t claim JSA came off the street and tried to negotiate with Tesco or ASDA to work for free because they need the experience and to keep a work discipline… he or she would have to be turned down unless they were willing to pay.

      Currently that what does happen. As they would be in trouble for not paying NMW even as a “volunteer” – so places like Tesco are clearly and deliberately exploiting those without choice into work for free.

      Only recent as the Work Experience scheme been known to have a backdoor to escape. This is set under law from Day 1, but Jobcentre Plus advisers never stated about you can leave in the first week and many advisers not stated there were even sanctions. I seem to recall it was a sister website of this one (Work Programme Network) that released the knowledge out there that you can get out of it if bullied on to the scheme.

      Work Programme

      February 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm

  17. The main purpose of the bourgeois in relation to the worker is, of course, to have the commodity labour as cheaply as possible, which is only possible when the supply of this commodity is as large as possible in relation to the demand for it”

    – Karl Marx

    Karl Marx

    February 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm

  18. “Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism as it is a merge of state and corporate power.”

    – Benito Mussolini

    Benito Mussolini

    February 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm

  19. […] Re: Boycott Workfare looks like tesco is trying out slave labour http://intensiveactivity.wordpress.c…s-grow-latest/ […]

  20. “The name of peace is sweet, and the thing itself is beneficial, but there is a great difference between peace and servitude. Peace is freedom in tranquillity, servitude is the worst of all evils, to be resisted not only by war, but even by death.”

    – Cicero

    Cicero

    February 19, 2012 at 7:07 pm

  21. “Aye, fight and you may die.
    Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many
    years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this
    day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell
    our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR
    FREEDOM!”

    – William Wallace

    William Wallace

    February 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm

  22. Emma Harrison’s firm A4e is
    accused of receiving fees from
    the taxpayer after finding
    people jobs lasting just 24
    hours
    The company has won state
    contracts worth millions over
    the last 20 years
    She awarded herself
    £8.6million of mainly
    taxpayers’ cash this month
    David Cameron had hailed her
    an ‘inspiration’ to his
    employment campaign
    But Labour MPs claim A4e’s
    record on finding people jobs
    is ‘abysmal’

    dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2103522/Suspend-work-tsar-MPs-demand-action-fraud-probe-job-placement-scheme.html

    tony

    February 19, 2012 at 11:37 pm

  23. It’s not only Tesco in the bad books.

    Now A4E Fairy Jobmother is under Police investigation:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2103522/Suspend-work-tsar-MPs-demand-action-fraud-probe-job-placement-scheme.html

    Tobanem

    February 20, 2012 at 10:26 am

  24. The Daily Mail does it again. Wonders will never cease – every little helps!

    Here is their latest report about the Tesco crisis:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2103566/Crisis-talks-Tesco-supermarket-demands-changes-unpaid-work-scheme.html

    Tobanem

    February 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

  25. Companies tell of getting calls from workfare providers like A4E selling the unemployed as “commitment free loophole round minimum wage” This is what the Government has set up!! Disgusting!

    Disgusted

    February 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm

  26. This is not wartime Nazi Germany and Cameron’s attacks on the vulnerable and needy must be stopped

    Dastardly: Sonia Poulton says David Cameron and the Coalition Government has surpassed itself in its campaign of terror against some of the most needy in our society

    Sonia says cultural observers could not fail to notice similarities between what is taking place here and what occurred in Hitler’s Germany

    I’m unwell at the moment. I have a streaming nose, high temperature, cold shakes and low blood pressure. I get light headed when I stand and I have fallen over a couple of times this week. What I am experiencing has made me a bit miserable and snappy (sorry loved ones), not to mention bruised and sore from head to foot, but it’s not life-threatening, not terminal. Unlike what many others are enduring.

    I reveal my current state of health not because I wish to elicit sympathy (or even garner a gift or two, but either is always nice) but because I wish to highlight that even though I am physically poorly, I still felt compelled to rise from my sickbed and write.

    Why? Because over the past week or so I have sat back and watched our Coalition Government surpass itself in its campaign of terror against some of the most needy in our society.

    There we were thinking it impossible that David Cameron’s Tory party could become even more dastardly, even more duplicitous, in their devastating aims against those in vulnerable groups – sick, disabled, single parent families and the elderly – but they have.

    Take their next much-vaunted initiative – the Workfare programme. Controversial certainly – who can forget the graduate who declined to work at Poundland as part of the scheme? She who was reviled and martyred, depending on your political persuasion, reading pleasure and sense of justice, for refusing to work at the budget chain store so that she would continue to receive ‘benefits’ as she searched for the job she had studied and qualified for.

    I agreed with her. I deplore the Workfare programme for many reasons but primarily because it is deplorable. Trumpeted as a programme that will give the unemployed key skills, it serves nothing of the sort.

    What it is, in actuality, is a benefit system for sections of our work force. And there was I, foolishly, thinking that when you are part of the capitalist work force then the appropriate term for remuneration received is salary. Apparently not. These days, and under Cameron’s stewardship, we receive ‘benefits’ to become part of the job market.

    Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with getting hands-on experience that will enable progression in your chosen path, and we’ve all done plenty of that, but there is everything wrong with being forced to work in a place that has nothing to do with your aims and ambitions and everything to do with creating a labour force that verges on slavery to the system.

    Astonishingly, the deplorable – I think I mentioned that already – Workfare has reached new lows this week as it became transparently clear that it also serves to line the overflowing coffers of wealthy corporations while making the already poor, poorer still.

    The thing about Cameron’s Workfare programme is it’s almost too easy to criticise. The problem is not knowing where to start but wondering if I shall ever finish.

    So I ask just this: how can it possibly be right for a multi-national – such as Tesco – to benefit from free labour?

    That’s wrong. Clearly. If staff are needed by our numero uno retailer then Tesco should have an absolute obligation to pay them the going rate. And not a penny less.

    Presumably the company’s slogan ‘Every little helps’ (the shareholder) is a similar mantra to the Coalition’s ‘We’re all in this together’ (politicians and bankers, that is). In that it benefits the few and not the many.

    What Tesco, and other participants in the Workfare scheme, receive is far greater than what they give.

    We, as the country, are, quite literally, paying the consumer giant to make even more money. And we are doing that by having our taxpayer funded job seekers work free for the company.

    Does that sound right? It might if your view of life is from Downing Street, but it’s not from elsewhere.

    You have to wonder how many MP’s have fat wads of shares at stake in the Workfare scheme. I know I do. It may not be illegal for them to benefit from increased corporate share prices that Government initiatives may bring them personally, but it sure is highly questionable.

    Disability benefits

    And this brings me to what I consider to be the most heinous of the Coalition’s attacks this week and the one that finally prompted me from my sickbed.

    As a result of Cameron’s spurious recent behaviour in pushing through crippling, quite literally for some, amendments to disability benefits, it has become clear that the attached issues are even more heinous that the blueprint of the Welfare Reform Bill, itself.

    And it is this: disabled people will now face the prospect of unlimited unpaid work or they will be subject to cuts in their benefits. For millions that is nothing more than a line on a page but for many terrified and suicidal others, it is anything but.

    Even from the outside – in that neither I or my daughter currently require disability or sickness benefits, thankfully – it is clear that this will result in a deeply troubling outcome for those directly affected.

    The consequences of this cannot be overstated. It will be, quite simply, devastating. As a number of institutes have not been slow in expressing their very real concerns.

    The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) have written to the Coalition outlining the dangers of forcing sick and disabled people into the job market (the one that currently stands at almost three million unemployed by the way).

    The RCP have a number of fears about the inadequacies of such a system. They worry, quite rightly, that managers in job centres and private companies – whose job it is to get people back to work – have inadequate health expertise and will push those with mental health issues into inappropriate placements.

    Forcing people who have more than six months left to live – yes it is that stark, again – to earn a living is an outrage on a previously unseen scale.

    Even I’m shocked by the ruthlessness of it and I wouldn’t put anything past this compassion-free zone that is Parliament.

    If nothing else the Coalition are proving themselves, over and over again, to be worthy defenders of the rich. If you’re in the top percentage of income earners in this country then you, too, should be OK. I’m talking about the CEO, the landowners and shareholders. The banking industry, the pharmaceutical giants, the retail multi-nationals.

    It’s no great secret that one of the main reasons that MP’s take care of business is because so many of them have financial interests in the businesses that they do business with. They are protecting their own interests while governing over the rest of us and insisting we do the same.

    Morals aside, and I feel we must put them aside when referring to many, many politicians – and particularly much of the current shower in power – you can’t really blame them for protecting their assets. They know which side their bread is buttered, or that of their colleagues, and they never fail to deliver or to resort to type in that regard.

    Some people have written to me complaining that I get too angry when I write about our Government. But I AM angry. I believe we all should be outraged and I’m shouting because I want people to hear it.

    Let us make no mistake what we are witnessing from our Coalition Government is absolutely, unquestionably, categorically scandalous.

    The ritual humiliation, brutalisation, threats and punishment of anyone who is considered ‘a burden to the state’. Anyone who is less than perfect, anyone who dares to find themselves in a position where they need the state to support them. Those people are the subject of shocking and terrifying behaviour at the hands of David Cameron’s Coalition.

    Cultural observers could not fail to notice the similiarites between what is taking place here towards sick, disabled, elderly or any group perceived to be vulnerable and weak and what occurred in Hitler’s Germany.

    This may not be ethnic cleansing that we are witnessing – and some are already experiencing – but it’s a type of cleansing all the same.

    There are hundreds of thousands of people around our country right now who are absolutely petrified for their future. It appears so hopeless. There have already been a number of suicides from people who left behind messages to the effect that they simply could not take the hardship any more. Could not face another winter without sufficient food or heat. And in the UK in 2012. Doesn’t it make you proud?

    Some of the actions that are being carried out around our great country – and it’s still great no matter what the idiots trying to make it’s not say – are an absolute living outrage and we cannot condone it in any way shape or form.

    This Coalition have long since crossed the line of decency. Their attacks on those who need our help the most are vile, and transparently so, and must be stopped. Else we all live to regret it.

    Article + pictures here.

    Daily Heil

    February 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    • Here is an illustration of the Nazi propaganda on those considered “a burden on the state”:

      The harrowing depiction could almost be entitled “bleeding the taxpayer dry” – because it is the disgruntled taxpayer who it is aimed at.

      Now, where have I heard that expression about “bleeding the taxpayer dry” before? Regrettably, some current UK tabloids are the culprits!

      At least the Daily Mail, who are not guiltless on this matter hitherto, have at last focused on the real tax-bleeding corporate vampires with their damning report on A4E.

      PS The Nazis even had their own word for the “workshy” in the concentration camps. The German word is “Arbeitsscheu”, and those concentration camp inmates were made to wear a black triangle on their already degrading striped uniforms. The Arbeitsscheu included alcoholics, the homeless, the mentally ill and the disabled. Sound familiar? It sounds just like the categories of people being kicked off IB and DLA these days in the UK!

      Tobanem

      February 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm

  27. The private agencies employed by the governments work programmes are on the verge of collapse without a bail out from the government. Every day they cajole, threaten punitive action of benefit sanctions of those unemployed who cannot find work, A4e comes directly to mind. People who are benefit sanctioned on the word of these private enterprises have no recourse to ANY public funds. I am awaiting the first deaths, either of malnutrition or suicide. They are despicable companies who quite frankly make me feel ill with revulsion. An expose of their working practices might allow us to examine this frightening development with more clarity. Maggie was a saint compared to this lot. And as for the Lib Dems, we all know they never again will exercise power and any manifesto will be slim indeed, very slim.

    Privet

    February 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm

  28. […] Ipswich Unemployed Action here it actually says A DWP spokeswoman said: “As we made clear on Thursday, this role was […]

  29. These schemes are an outrage. I am also an older worker. At 57 years old, my pension age has just been pushed back to 66. I am formally educated to post-doctoral level, up-to-date in my field and … unemployed. And my field is not out of ‘fashion’… unless we have given up on innovation and science and technology policy, environmental and emerging technologies! Workfare is repressive. It is about social control and cutting the budget for welfare wrapped in ideological propaganda which vilifies the ‘unemployed’, and reduces all unemployed people to a stereotype of the ‘lowest common denominator’, i.e. unskilled, no formal education. A lot of young people unemployed are not without education and they are not unskilled. They are very capable! A lot of older workers have a wealth of work and life experience, transferable knowledge and skills. The common denominator: they ALL want to work and earn a decent living. What we all need, is: 1) respect; 2) real (paid) jobs at decent wages and sustainable employment with career progression; 3) training opportunities that are real and commensurate to the person’s education and ability. And for those who are sick and disabled, respect of human rights!

    Michelle

    February 21, 2012 at 1:16 am

    • Hi Michelle and welcome.
      You’re obviously well educated and keen to work (proper work not the less than minimum wage, zero hours nonsense being peddled by the workfare pimps). Unfortunately other than the thought that you are not alone I can offer little in the way of solace. It looks like you could have another 9 years of the WP (unless the whole misbegotten edifice collapses under the weight of its own ridiculousness first).

      This is somewhat off topic (Don’t know how to start a new thread) But the Indie now wighs in against the Blessed One:
      Entrepreneur, visionary, philanthropist: David Cameron’s back-to-work tsar, Emma Harrison, sells herself with the unashamed punch of a competitive religious leader.

      Her A4e [Action for Employment] consultancy’s motto – “doing well by doing good” – has been sold to two successive governments as an economic gospel capable, like the miracle of water into wine, of turning the jobless into skilled, in-work taxpayers.

      Ms Harrison uses language that mixes Wall Street with the Bible belt to describe finding someone a job. “I walk by their side, hold their hands and we go on a journey together,” she says. Her “holistic” approach swayed Gordon Brown. And when jobless problem families were deemed a root cause of last year’s riots, Mr Cameron became a born-again follower.

      However, A4e yesterday described as “disproportionate” calls for its government contracts to be suspended after police visited its offices following new claims of fraud, thought to relate to four staff. The police inquiry was dismissed by one of A4e’s consultants, the former Home Secretary David Blunkett. He said: “This is the same story as two years ago when the company took action themselves and informed the Department for Work and Pensions rather than wait for a probe.” Mr Blunkett is paid between £25,000 and 30,000 a year to help A4e with its £50m contracts overseas.

      Despite her humble origins at an agency helping to re-skill Sheffield’s washed-up steel industry, Ms Harrison has turned her father’s small A4e business into a consultancy thriving on £300m of essentially public contracts in 11 countries. Admitting to running “illegal tuck shops” at the age of nine, and subsequently making a “total mess” of her A-levels, she now employs 3,300 people. Her personal worth of £70m is within the top 100 of the Sunday Times Rich List.

      Although A4e’s official literature boasts of “improving lives all over the world”, not everyone buys the back-to-work, private-sector evangelism. The MP Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, warned that A4e’s fortunes were based on public cash, but it was doing what state agencies often did for less. “We should be looking for others companies like this to appear soon,” she said. “This is what creeping privatisation looks like – and we are not looking hard enough.”

      Ms Harrison, however, is not afraid to look and sound different from the old state-run jobcentres. “This isn’t an empire we’re building. It’s a global social movement,” shouts the firm’s literature. Although she insists “vision and purpose” must be explained and understood within 30 seconds, economic psycho-babble permeates A4e’s promotional material. There is talk of “owning outcomes”, the “personalisation of public services” and of “vibrant supply chains”.

      “Improving lives” with public cash has brought Ms Harrison within touching distance of her childhood dreams. The neo-Gothic mansion she bought in the Peak District a decade ago for £5m was the study centre she visited to learn Russian as child. “I used to imagine myself sweeping down the stairs in a long, red dress. So I bought it,” she said.

      Other homes she shares with her husband, a successful businessman, and their four children include a £3m mews property in London. Ms Hodge thinks the success is unwarranted, that job-finding targets set for some of A4e’s larger state contracts have been “abysmally” missed, and that credit should instead go to the low-profile employment charities routinely sub-contracted key work from Ms Harrison’s “visionary” empire.

      As a Labour minister, Ms Hodge may forget it was Gordon Brown’s first New Deal scheme in 1997 that accelerated A4e’s expansion out of Sheffield with initial contacts worth £80m. Termination fees worth tens of millions in the Treasury’s switch from Alistair Darling to George Osborne, and a recent £8.6m dividend as A4e’s major shareholder, have brought Ms Harrison closer to what she admits is the “billion-pound target in my head”.

      Another target, if she ever gets the chance, will do more than prompt questions in the Commons. She said recently: “I’ve got another million people I want to help. I’m going to … sort out the entire health system.”

      She also claims to have “a role in the Bank of England’s regional consultations on behalf of the Monetary Policy Committee”. The Bank questioned the use of the word “role”, saying: “I think Emma’s website needs a bit of an update.”
      Source; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/how-camerons-70mbacktowork-tsar-was-left-fighting-for-her-own-job-7237430.html

      Gissajob

      February 21, 2012 at 10:23 am

      • “we go on a journey together.”

        Yes, Emma, but yours ends at the gate of a taxpayer funded multi million pound mansion and an 8 million pound divident.

        Ours ends with compulsory unpaid work for six months.

        wishface

        February 21, 2012 at 11:15 am

  30. Smile or Die – the Cult of Positive Thinking

    The Cult of Positive Thinking

    February 21, 2012 at 1:35 am

    • What could be cleverer as a way of quelling consent than to tell people who are in some kind of trouble, poverty, unemployment etcetera that it’s all their attitude, you know, that that’s all that has to change, that they should just get with the programme, smile and no complaining.

      It’s a brilliant form of social control which by the way was practised in the Soviet Union. I mean one of the principles of Soviet Commuinism was optimism. It’s a form of social control you know, it’s quite widespread and has been widespread in totalitarian types of society but I think it has worked very well in America.

      Barbara Ehrenreich

      February 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    • “quelling dissent”

      Barbara Ehrenreich

      February 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      • FAO Barbara Ehrenreich

        Have you heard of “Gang Stalking”? It is the ultimate tool to quell dissent!

        Take a look at this:

        http://gangstalkingworld.wordpress.com/

        Chilling stuff!

        So, if you have ever “asserted your rights at work”, or taken on “some big corporation”, or if you have ever “wrote a letter”, watch out!

        Another case of Gang Stalking is the one involving English woman, Jane Clift. Here is the report:

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1195399/Woman-branded-potentially-violent-council-complaining-damaged-flowerbed.html

        Gang Stalking is the ultimate form of community behavioural control and conformity.

        Tobanem

        February 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      • “This case perceived on the background provided by the evolution of my described relations with Kentish Town Jobcenter indicates that in the UK there exists a room for operation of routines which allow anybody who is perceived as troublemaker being thrown on the street, reduced to the state of animal by destroying one’s human capital and left without any warranty of physical survival.”

        Alexander Sobko

        Alexander Sobko

        February 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm

  31. In 1978, I was sent to Tesco on a YTS (Youth Training Scheme) which sounds remarkably like this – except for the expenses! I received the same money as I did on the dole, which way back then was £18 a week, and was told at the Job Centre that I would work 9am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday, no late nights and no Saturdays. As soon as I arrived for my first day, I was told that I had to do both late nights (sounds laughable now, but it was Thursday 5:30 to 7 and Friday 5:30 to 8!) as well as Saturdays, with no extra money at all. And I got Wednesdays off, which was early closing day anyway, in lieu of the Saturday! The full timers doing less hours than me were getting £35 per week, and the Saturday staff, those (usually teenagers) doing both late nights and Saturday were getting around £15 per week. Oh, and I was told by other staff that no YTS worker had ever been taken on full time after their six month ‘parole’ period ended as an excuse was always found to sack them so that they could be replaced with new YTS applicants! I was lucky – my fiance worked for the GPO (now BT) and got me an interview for a job as a clerical assistant which paid roughly three times more money for less hours, and I was able to leave, thank goodness. So you see, Tesco and Governments exploiting the unemployed is nothing new – only the name of the scheme changes…………

    Mungo Jerrie

    February 21, 2012 at 3:28 am

  32. I worked in this training / job experience sector in the Midlands (not A4E). Everything about it and the people working in it is sham – it is solely about those employed to run the schemes making a living. Most of those employed are below standard otherwise they would be working for better salaries in mainstream companies. I left in total distress and feel a sense of anger whenever I hear about these schemes. They could and should work but not with those employed to run them at the moment.

    Chris

    February 21, 2012 at 2:01 pm

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