LAMH Recycling says it has been bombarded with abusive messages and its Range Road premises have been vandalised since the Motherwell Times highlighted a daily vigil being carried out by former employee John McArthur.
He has been spending two hours every day standing outside the factory with placards critical of LAMH for taking part in the employment scheme. Participants get a six-month placement but no payment above their usual jobseeker’s allowance.
Mr McArthur (59) said his benefits were stopped after he refused a placement at LAMH where he had worked previously for a wage. He can’t afford to switch on his heating and is ‘living on 16p tins of spaghetti’.
Since our story two weeks ago Mr McArthur has received messages of support and offers of cash from home and abroad, but LAMH said it, in contrast, has been swamped by e-mails and other messages containing abuse and threats.
People on LAMH placements this week lined up to defend the work scheme which, they claim, is improving their chances of finding a job.
One, John Dowdie, said: “It’s completely wrong that the people here are getting hatemail and threats. This is a Government programme and the Jobcentre sent us here. It’s nothing to do with LAMH.”
Joe Fulton, operations and development manager at LAMH, also defended the scheme, saying seven people who signed up in June when it first started have gone on to find jobs elsewhere.
He said the 15 current participants will be allowed to complete their placements, but no more will be taken on.
Mr Fulton stated: “We are not in the business of surviving through slave labour, but it was obvious the people behind this campaign were not going to stop.
“We are forced into this action reluctantly for the protection of the people with us plus the safeguarding of the organisation, which is highly regarded for the good work it has achieved in the local community since 1999.”
Under the scheme, jobless people join the LAMH workforce, whose tasks include repairing computers and collecting materials such as cans and bottles for recycling.
They also get access to telephones and computers to make job applications under the supervision of an employment co-ordinator.
Elaine Tollan, from Craigneuk, gave the scheme her approval.
She said: “I’ve been unemployed for four or five years, but after 14 weeks at LAMH, I feel more motivated to get a job.
“I’m getting unemployment money and I’m fine with that.”
Richard Dawson, from Muirhouse, praised the ‘welcoming’ atmosphere at LAMH and scoffed at the ‘slave labour’ claim.
He said: “Before, I didn’t get out of bed till dinner time. I was very negative about this when I started, but now I feel motivated and confident.
“I don’t think about the money. I come here with a spring in my step. It’s another step towards getting a job and it’s all positive.”
Reports the Motherwell Times.
But, lo, there is more to say on this:
Here is the reply to the latest Motherwell Times article on Lamh Recycle which I cannot get posted on their web site:
“The print version of this article describes people on CWP employment schemes as “recruits” who had “signed up” however, they are not recruited or signed up but ordered under threats of sanctions to work for no wages . One conscript stated in the article that their job prospects were improved by being on a mandatory work activity (MWA) scheme however a DWP report shows that on average “an MWA referral had no impact on the likelihood of being employed compared to non-referrals” (but they can reduce the unemployment count). These schemes bypass minimum wage regulations and not only does the organization get the labour, for which they would otherwise have to pay, for free but they are actually paid by the DWP/agents. None of the charities that I am aware of in Motherwell Town Centre, nor any of the major national charities, participate in the CWP scheme because they believe it to be wrong.
Anyone who wants work experience might consider genuine voluntary work (but check very carefully if the Job Centre will allow it) which appeals more to employers because it shows the person is working through their own free will and it also saves the tax payer a fortune due to the fees paid by the DWP to their agents. Please also note that organizations enter into a contract for taking conscripts knowing full well the nature of the coercion involved (i.e sanctions) so the article isn’t correct to publish the claim that it is the Jobcentre who is doing the forcing and that “it’s nothing to do with LAMH”. It was also very disappointing to read comments purporting to come from happy conscripts which include the stereotypical Benefit St view of unemployed people as being lazy and unable to get up out bed and look for work. This can only cause further distress to their fellow citizens who are now tarred as scroungers and subject to forced labour for the crime of being unemployed through lack of vacancies.
I would also like to thank once again the many people whom I spoke to outside Lamh Recycle premises each morning who (bar one) expressed their support. I also deeply appreciate the extraordinary kindness of people whom I have never met but who have contacted me offering assistance. They keep alive the true spirit of charity, i.e caritas (love), and giving without seeking a fee (or free labour).