Socialist Worker

Tories force benefit claimants to do slave labour

Issue No. 2255

The cabinet’s millionaires are stepping up their war on the poor by forcing benefit claimants to work for no money.

Benefit claimants can now be made to work, unpaid, for 30 hours a week for four weeks on a “work activity placement”.

If they refuse, they will lose their benefits for a minimum of three months.

And shockingly, claimants said to be “doing just enough to satisfy the conditions” of their benefits can still be referred to the scheme.

Once again the government is setting targets for job centre workers. A minimum of 6 percent of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants will be referred. And at least 50 percent of referrals must result in decisions to force the claimant into a placement.

This makes a mockery of the claim that people will only be referred to the scheme if they fail to “actively look for work”.

Employment minister Chris Grayling says that the government is “determined to break the habit of worklessness” and that the scheme will help job seekers develop a “work‑oriented mindset”.

But the truth is that it will force the poorest people in society to work for free or lose their benefits—punishing the poorest while boosting the profits of private companies.

Claimants will even have to pay for their own childcare, travel and work‑related items—like uniforms.

The government says that work done under the scheme will “benefit” the community.

But that definition includes “working towards the profit of the host organisation”—the company getting a free worker.

There is nothing to stop a company sacking workers and using unpaid claimants, rotating them every four weeks.

The government’s own social security advisory committee has recommended that “mandatory work activity does not proceed”.

But the Tories don’t care. They are forcing benefit claimants into slave labour.

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Tue 7 Jun 2011, 18:23 BST
Issue No. 2255
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