By Tom Walker
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Patronising Sun jobs fair offers army recruitment

This article is over 9 years, 7 months old
More than 92,000 jobs were "up for grabs" at the Sun’s "Sunemployment" roadshow—or so the newspaper claimed.
Issue 2305
Protest at Sandwell hospital against the use of workfare schemes (Pic: Pete Jackson)
Protest at Sandwell hospital against the use of workfare schemes (Pic: Pete Jackson)

More than 92,000 jobs were “up for grabs” at the Sun’s “Sunemployment” roadshow—or so the newspaper claimed.

But when Socialist Worker visited its London jobs fair, the truth behind the tabloid spin was clear to see.

It was easy to spot the fair’s central London location—by following the people with army recruitment leaflets coming the other way.

The army, navy and RAF recruitment stalls had pride of place in the small hotel hall where the event was held.

On the army stall, all the talk was of the various “trades” the military had to offer.

“You get to see the world,” said the recruiter.

What about the danger? “Depends what you do,” was all he could manage. “Some trades expose you to more risk than others.”

And Afghanistan? “Well, you could join the Territorial Army instead.”


Andy, on the navy stall, was more encouraging.

“In the Falklands we made the mistake of being too close,” he said. “The Argies bombed the hell out of us.

“Nowadays you’re 400 miles away—you can fire a missile and blow stuff up from there.”

On the Sun’s own figures, around one in six of the “jobs on offer” were in the military.

There were some other firms there. Sad-looking stalls for the likes of Tesco, Lidl and Wetherspoon made up the numbers.

“We pay the best in retail,” claimed the man from Tesco.

“It’s a big opportunity.”

The biggest claimed number of jobs “on offer” was from KFC.

The company was giving out leaflets detailing its chicken-based philosophy.

This includes “Take the hill teamwork”, “Be customer maniacs” and “Recognise! Recognise! Recognise!”

Upstairs, in the “have a go” area, an older man was being shown how to mix a drink for bar work. “Congratulations, you’ve just made a mojito!” they told him. “I knew you could do it.”

The Sun claimed to be “helping” unemployed people.

Huge Sun headlines were put up on displays, like “Sunemployment saved my son’s life”.

But the fair was about patronising them—and exploiting them.

In Newcastle, Birmingham and Manchester, the fairs were even hosted by controversial television host Jeremy Kyle.

After the London fair, the Sun ran a quote from employment minister Chris Grayling.

It said, “The Sun has set an example for everyone.”

But even on its own optimistic figures, the newspaper was only able to claim that 1,000 people had “found a job, work experience or been lined up for interview”.

As literature graduate Kira said on her way out,

“They promised a lot, but it wasn’t worth it.”

Back Story

  • The Tories plan to extend their work programme to make unemployed people work for free

  • Workfare schemes oblige the jobless to take an unpaid placement for a month to keep their benefits

  • Initially this affected 24,000 people. The government plans to add another 50,000

  • Fewer than one in four of those who had been on the work programme for six months had found a job according to the Employment Related Services Association

  • The schemes have sparked widespread protests

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