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Tesco’s superexploitation of workers in workfare scheme

After what can only be described as a Twitter tornado, Tesco has said that the Job Centre Plus advert for an unpaid job at one of their supermarkets was an “IT error”.

The storm kicked off shortly afterwards as social media users barraged the company’s Facebook page and Twitter hashtag with angry comments.

Several users described the practice of employing workers on Job Seekers Allowance as “modern slave labour”, and whilst the marketing people deleted the first few posts from the Tesco Facebook wall they soon gave up fighting the losing battle.

Big supermarkets have come under scrutiny in the last few weeks for paying workers such low wages that staff are often forced to supplement their salaries with government benefits, and a recent Newsnight piece by Economics editor Paul Mason interviewed several employees on the breadline. It seems that the Job Centre advert promising literally no wages at all was the final straw.

“IT Error”

Tesco claimed that the role, advertised as “permanent” was in fact only for three nights, and that anyone employed under the government scheme – working for benefits – would be offered an interview at the end of the trial.

But their PR crisis team has fooled no-one.

Tesco made almost £4 billion in profits last year, whilst CEO Terry Leahy makes upwards of £5 million per year in salary and bonuses.

The company relies on taxpayers to top up the miserly wages it gives to employees, and it seems that far from creating jobs, the company is filling positions with claimants struggling to live on a £1.50 per hour welfare check.

The idea that shelf-filling is “valuable work experience” is a bad joke and interviews are no guarantee of a permanent role once a placement has ended.

How Workfare works

#Occupy Tescos

Public pressure and direct action have forced Sainbury’s and Waterstones to abandon the workfare initiative and it’s time Tesco follows suit.

Revolution and other organisations will be calling demonstrations against the company in the next few days.

The message is clear: “stop workfare now or face the consequences!”

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