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Work without pay – no way!

By Sally Turner

Eighty youth from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth were forced to sleep out under London Bridge, do unpaid work and had no access to toilets for over 24 hours during the Queen’s Jubilee in London.

Thirty jobseekers and 50 on apprenticeships “worked” for Close Protection UK (CPUK) under the Coalition government’s workfare system.

Downing Street ignored condemnations of slave labour and made it clear they would not be changing the system, which provides the bosses with free labour while threatening to remove the claimants’ benefit unless they obey.

This is by no means a one-off as workfare is rapidly expanding with ever more companies signing up to cream the benefits of an unpaid workforce.

At Argos, jobseekers work 30 hours a week for six weeks to receive weekly benefits of just £53 – which works out to £1.30 an hour.

At a time when 2.67 million people are officially unemployed, workfare allows multi-million pound companies like Argos, Matalan and Superdrug to obtain labour at the taxpayers’ expense, effectively granting them a government incentive not to hire.

It is predicted that there will be 500,000 public sector job losses over the next five years.

It is clear that the government intends to use workfare to replace gaps left in the public sector.

It is already doing this within the NHS, where under-trained volunteers are doing eight weeks of unpaid work, which includes cleaning and feeding patients.

These are important aspects of patient care and require full training – it is appalling that untrained volunteers have been put in such a position.

The government has said it intends to double the amount of unemployed people forced to work for their benefits, which means an increase to around 80,000 places a year.

Last year George Osborne said, “Young people who do not engage with this offer will be considered for mandatory work activity and those who drop about will lose their benefits.”

There are also plans for some 300,000 people suffering from either a long-term illness or disability to be introduced to mandatory work experience.

We need to be fighting back against this government of the rich and their attempts to force the unemployed into virtual slavery.

With unemployment rising you too could soon be forced to stack shelves for less than minimum wage.

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