Saturday, 25 February 2012
Proof that Workfare is indeed slavery
On 17 November 2011, I wrote the following piece (here) in order to bring to your attention the fact that the Tory 'work programme' was compulsory (or mandatory). As an historian, not a lawyer, I had to check the legal interpretation of the word mandatory with a legal friend. They assure me that in legal term mandatory carries weight in law and means 'permit no option'. I also include the screen dump of the exact DWP document that lays out the compulsory nature of the work programme. This is no longer available on the main DWP website. Several articles this morning, on other sites, have complained that the DWP (and Grayling) are trying to cover up that it was ever on the website, but I can reveal that an archived version is still available from this link. In legal terms, the screen dump below is proof that the scheme is without choice or pay, and therefore compulsory. The government boast that this work programme is the 'centrepiece' of plans to reform the welfare to work provision but given that the alternative is a loss of benefits and starvation, I see no reason to alter my absolute view that workfare is slavery.
I set the government two tests before I could consider changing this opinion. 1. Make the placements only for third sector companies, or small businesses who could make genuine use of the labour in a constructive way that would further the interests of worker and company. 2. Give the participants a little extra for taking part (ideally a wage) so that they can look their loved ones in the eye and feel like they are earning a crust, however thin. Even Thatcher gave participants of her scheme an extra tenner.
If you are unemployed, the only way you will be able to escape this is if you do not claim benefits and live under the good will and hospitality of a loved one, be it a partner or parent. Failing that, you are compelled to work for full time hours unpaid. Those who will be compelled to work include the disabled.