Saturday, 13 August 2011

Government Bullies Unemployed For Corporate Profit

Unemployed people are being forced to work without pay for corporations, including Tesco, by jobcentres. Some are working for up to six months while receiving unemployment benefit of £67.50 a week or less.

A new report by corporare watch says that the government is bullying people into unpaid work for the profit of corporations.

The government says that unpaid work placements, which are also given in small businesses, voluntary organisations and public sector bodies, help people gain vital experience and prepare them for the workplace, but campaigners say they provide companies with free labour, undercut existing jobs and that people are “bullied” into them.

In an interview published by Corporate Watch a woman who was given a placement in Primark for six months, under the previous government's welfare programme, says her work was the same as that of other paid staff and that she was not given a job at the end of it. She also says she was told her benefits would be stopped if she did not attend.

A variety of multinational companies in the retail and service sectors appear to be taking people on unpaid placements. Employment services company Working Links, which has been awarded contracts to administer the coalition’s flagship Work Programme in Wales, Scotland and the South West of England, told Corporate Watch it worked with all the major retailers across Britain and “actively promoted volunteering as a tool to help our customers in their journey to find sustainable employment.”

A Tesco spokesperson said the company has 3,000 work experience placements for “the young unemployed,” while Asda and Sainsbury's are both named in a list, obtained last month under the Freedom of Information Act, of companies, voluntary and public sector bodies taking unpaid work placements organised by A4e, another employment company contracted by the government, although Sainsbury's denied working with A4e.

The corporate placements are not limited to retail: Hilton Hotels told Corporate Watch they have “committed to 100 placements at hotels around the country – that’s more than one for every hotel we operate.”
Explaining the reasons behind its involvement, Hilton said: “the work experience initiative will help unemployed young people to develop the skills needed to secure a sustainable job,” but campaigners critical of these “workfare” programmes question why the companies are not paying a proper wage.
A spokesperson for the Boycott Workfare campaign said: “These placements are not designed to help people into full-time paid work but they serve to increase organisations' profits. They provide a constant stream of free labour and suppress wages by replacing paid workers with unpaid workers. People are coerced, bullied and sanctioned into taking the placements. Placements in the public sector and charities are no better and are making volunteering compulsory. This is taking away the right of a person to sell their own labour and their free will to choose who they volunteer their time for.”
When asked by Corporate Watch, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) did not say how many placements led to paid jobs. Tesco said “many work placement staff starting on work placements will become Tesco employees,” while Hilton said “a number” of young people are offered full-time positions at the end of their placement. Asda and Primark did not comment. Sainsbury’s said they organise their own ‘You Can’ programme, outside the government schemes, which they said always leads to paid work.
People are sent to work unpaid through different government schemes, all under the Get Britain Working banner. Tesco and Hilton are taking 18-24 year olds for between two to eight weeks on Work Experience Placements direct from Jobcentres. People were sent to Primark and Asda by contracted employment companies through the previous government's Flexible New Deal for up to six months and this will be continued in the recently started Work Programme. The DWP said the decision to send people to corporations under the Work Programme will be made by the employment provider companies as they see fit.
This is in addition to the Mandatory Work Activity scheme, through which 20,000 people will be sent to work (unpaid) for up to 30 hours a week for 4 weeks. The DWP said these jobs will “deliver a contribution to the local community” and will not involve major corporations.



Good for Tesco et al for taking these people who need the experience and structure to their lives.

howard thomas said...

An interesting report, although it begs a few questions. Such as who pays the agencies, how much and what are the 'results' that have to be achieved by the agencies in order to get paid?
I'm all for taking the long term micky-takers and putting them to work for 3-4 days a week in order to qualify for their benefits, BUT there is a point that any system should not be abused by companies for free labour. Perhaps there ought to be a limit of something like 30 days after which time the company has to employ the person or get rid of them. Perhaps the agency should only get their money after the person has been in proper paid employment for 6 months.
Do you know what the details are , because that is all important ?

I see it is reported in the press (and in readers letters) that the 'body/company/agency' that is assessing whether the long term sick are really sick are paid according to how many they declare 'fit for work' and apparantly in Scotland there have been some rather extreme cases of terminal cancer suffers declared 'fit for work'. Alledgedly they get more money for conducting appeals ! While it is right to look seriously at those that are on 'the sick' , it has to be done properly.
nb. A fairly consistant figure under both the last government and this one shows that about 35% of those who are going to be investigated sign off before being tested !!!!!! That tells a story !


I have to agree with you. Forced slavery has no place anywhere but as long as the 'employers' can demonstrate that what they are teaching is (or should be) beneficial to the unemployed person alls fair.

Getting benefits for not wanting to work is fundamentally wrong.