Sanctions Go Mad as DWP Orders Man to Work for Free for Company that Sacked him.
Iain Duncan Smith’s grilling this week in the House of Commons should take this case of “you couldn’t make it: sanctions gone mad”.
The Guardian reports.
A man who was let go at the end of a temporary job has been ordered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to work for the same firm for six months without pay.
Electronics specialist John McArthur, now unemployed, says he is living off 16p tins of spaghetti and without heating after being sanctioned by a jobcentre for refusing to work unpaid for LAMH Recycle in Motherwell, a Scottish social enterprise.
He says he was happy to work for LAMH under the now-defunct future jobs fund for the minimum wage in 2010-2011, but refuses on principle to do the same job unpaid.
McArthur, 59, says he is surviving on a monthly pension of £149 after the DWP stopped his unemployment benefit until January as punishment for his refusal to go on the 26-week community work placement (CWP).
For almost three months, McArthur has spent two hours each weekday morning parading outside the plant wearing a placard reading: “Say no to slave labour”.
“It was simply a case of: ‘Go here, work for nothing and if you don’t we’ll stop your subsistence level benefit,’” he said.
McArthur, who says he has been applying for 50 jobs a week without joy, said the CWP programme was “entirely exploitative” and came at the “expense of poor people who’ve got absolutely no choice”. He added: “They [the government] deny it’s forced labour, that you can say no, but forced doesn’t always mean physical, it can be psychological or economic.
The Mothwerwell Times covers the story.
Mr McArthur (59), of Dalziel Tower, has been standing outside LAMH Recyling in Range Road with placards and leaflets for two hours every weekday morning for nearly three months.
He said his jobseeker’s allowance was stopped after he refused to take up an upaid six-month ‘community work placement’ at LAMH. Previously he worked there and was paid the minimum wage.
Mr McArthur is angry that the registered charity, which employs people to repair computers and recycle paper and cans, has signed up for the Government scheme.
And this which will concern the readers of Ipswich Unemployed Action very directly.
Last Wednesday, the DWP continued to battle the information commissioner and hostile court judgments ordering it to reveal where possibly hundreds of thousands of people are being sent to work without pay, sometimes for months at a time.
At the tribunal, the DWP argued that if the public knew exactly where people were being sent on placements political protests would increase, which was likely to lead to the collapse of several employment schemes and undermine the government’s economic interests.
The DWP confirmed some of the UK’s biggest charities, including the British Heart Foundation, Scope, Banardo’s, Sue Ryder, and Marie Curie had withdrawn from the CWP scheme, causing a significant loss of placements.
Giving evidence, senior civil servant Jennifer Bradley confirmed that numerous charities and businesses were receiving cash payments as an incentive to take on the unemployed.
She said several DWP schemes used mandatory unpaid work as a tool to help people but stressed that it was written into the terms that charities and businesses could not use people out of work to replace their paid workforce.
The DWP said it could not comment on individual cases but added that community work placements “help long-term unemployed people to gain work experience which increases their confidence, helps them to gain vital skills and crucially, improves their chances of getting a job.
“We are not naming the charities and community groups involved in the scheme in order to protect them from those who seem intent on stopping us helping people into work.”
At least some people are around to try to unearth these scandals.
We hear individual reports of people on these schemes.
People are often very reluctant to make their experiences public.
Let’s end the secrecy!