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Tesco's Workfare: ''I can just get another unemployed person''

Discussion in 'UK politics, current affairs and news' started by treelover, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    I still don't agree with this.. simply because I think for most people the strongest association with slave labour is with the transatlantic slave trade, and workfare is nowhere near as violent as that was. Workfare does not kidnap people, put them on ships to go halfway roudn the world in conditions that half of them will die before they get there, to be sold to individuals who will own them and their children with no legal route to redemption.

    The comparison is not that far off, but I prefer to stick to forced labour as the term. It's far closer to the workhouses than the transatlantic slave trade.
    (And I'm aware that the way the OED defines slavery fits to workfare.. I just think that the most recent historical reality of that term is far enough removed from workfare as to make the comparison wrong)
    SpineyNorman, coltrane and frogwoman like this.
  2. john cooper

    john cooper Banned Banned

    no problem , i forget sometimes there are people far younger than me on here , so as i refer back its from my experiences but can confuse younger members .
    BigTom likes this.
  3. john cooper

    john cooper Banned Banned

    i see that but the meaning (slave labour) is somebody working for nothing with a theat hanging over them , in this case the threat of stoping benefits , thats the connection .
    BigTom likes this.
  4. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    Possibly it's because workfare is almost/entirely service industry jobs?
    I'm not sure how much of our economy the service industry makes up now - it's pretty substantial though.. and it can have long term substantive jobs.. but we've moved towards casualisation everywhere.
  5. Give IDS a bit of time......
    I think it is more akin to a workhouse. Obviously, plenty of people see this as a good thing and actively want it.
    (As long as it doesn't happen to them).
    Frankie Jack, treelover and BigTom like this.
  6. Lo Siento.

    Lo Siento. Second As Farce

    The workhouse analogy is pretty apposite, it's the same logic that the only way to make the poor work is to threaten with a choice between starvation or forced labour. The free labour has to be doled out to the private sector because otherwise public corporations with free labour would undercut them.

    It's trying to make a free market utopia with labour as a just another commodity, when, unfortunately we're all human beings with personalities :(
    treelover and BigTom like this.
  7. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    Ah, but it own't happen to them will it, because they've bought the line that unemployment is the individuals fault, it is people who are lazy or scroungers and that's not them.. until it is..
  8. coltrane

    coltrane Well-Known Member

    It brings a whole new meaning to the concept of "free market" in the labour market. For those that worship at the altar of the "Free Market", coerced humans are just another malleable input to be exploited in their rigged game.
  9. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Forced labour under duress, contracted indenture under duress, servitude under duress. The name doesn't matter half as much as the unacceptability of duress.
    BigTom likes this.
  10. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    I agree, but I think that it can put people off, either because they think "this isn't slave labour" and so that discredits everything else you have to say, makes people think that you are exaggerating, or because they think it is offensive to the memories of those who suffered in the transatlantic slave trade.
    weepiper and frogwoman like this.
  11. stuff_it

    stuff_it stirred the primordial soup

    And no it's not full on whips and chains and throw the sick ones over the side into the sea slavery, but it's certainly not acceptable in this day and age to threaten whole families with homelessness and starvation. It's closest imho to indentured servitude, not the workhouse (not yet anyway) from the way it's constructed - though it's the government's contract with the people not to let them starve if they fall on hard times is what is really being breached.

    It's also surprising and saddening how much some of the not so politically inclined unemployed people I've met have fallen hook line and sinker for the idea that workfare will help them to get a job; that mentioning bad practice is putting other people's chance of getting employment in jeopardy, etc. I was shocked to find any that thought like this tbf. :(

    They haven't, you can do an apprenticeship in all sorts of things you didn't used to be able to do one in: Care Work, Retail, Warehousing, etc...
    frogwoman and BigTom like this.
  12. To be honest I think people who thought this couldn't happen to them are starting to find out otherwise. Hence the Mail reacting in the way they (mainly) have about workfare. They've started to realise that it might affect them or someone they know.
    treelover, BigTom, ymu and 2 others like this.
  13. treelover

    treelover Well-Known Member

    'Right to Work still look to be focused on McDonalds, and also have a demo at DWP iirc on March 14th when the next unemployment figures are, forming a huge dole queue,'

    Where are they going to get the numbers from?, not the membership...
  14. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Just like they did in the '80s, when the people who bought into the "Labour isn't working" campaign when unemployment was under a million in '78-'79 found that unemployment had doubled by 1982-83, and was at 3 million or thereabouts by the middle of the decade.

    And that readers with little disposable income won't be able to afford luxuries like newspapers.
  15. treelover

    treelover Well-Known Member

    Do people think the weekend on workfare protests were successful?, I've withheld judgement as I don't want to be overly cynical(me?), but in my town, it was the usual suspects, no GP, no UKUC it was a very traditional megaphone protest, no street theatre, music, etc, mostly male and tbh, it was slightly aggressive, (noticeably no older SWP were there either) more importantly, the brief period i was near it, most people were indifferent and is some cases hostile, it reminded me of JSA protests down the rougher end of town, where the very people we were trying to help, slagged us off, but kudos to those who went on it. On a wider scale: B/W did a great job and the national scale of it was impressive but the national media seemed to ignore it, the numbers seemed very low, the middle class UKUNCUT groups seemed absent, the wide coalition of people needed inc churches, unions, etc did not seem to materialise.

    In fact, i think its the same old story, basic class issues are still way down the interest level of many middle class progressives, etc and sadly many of the W/C are still not involved, though when we did stuff on the first WRB, there was a lot of support from people who would be affected...

    still not sure...
    frogwoman likes this.
  16. treelover

    treelover Well-Known Member

    Oh, and for me the killer fact on the lack of interest is that how anyone can tolerate the idea of No DHSS when applying for accomodation?, how can that be acceptable by progressives, liberals, anyone, really...
  17. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    Well,Birmingham.. yep,usual suspects, normal megaphone type demo (but then that's been true for uk uncut stuff as well, we've never been any good at getting together any street theatre or anything), with a brief occupation of McDonalds. There were quite a few people who have done UK Uncut stuff but not the mood to occupy in that way - partly because for some of us, one of the things that didn't work with UK Uncut was that there was no connection with the shop workers who were mostly just pissed off at us for interrupting their day, and personally I want to make those connections before we occupy any places again, because we failed to do so whilst we were occupying as uk uncut.

    Leaflets were flying out, people stopping to talk, definite interest. I didn't see or hear anyone slagging anyone off, and there were no cries of "get a job" or anything like that.

    National media was totally uninterested, which surprised me given how the workfare story had been in the media - perhaps the day of action came just too late?

    Got the local meeting tonight, it'll be interesting to see if the time I've spent flyering the job centre pays off or if it's just the usual people there. Had lots of good discussions doing the job centre though, only one person has had a good experience on workfare (though obviously those who got jobs straight from it won't be at the job centre, and possibly those who had a good experience are less likely to stop and talk).
    I've had a small number of people who think it's a good idea stop and talk to me and have changed their minds, to some extent at least - mostly with the argument that it is taking away paid jobs and most people who go on the schemes say it doesn't benefit them.
  18. coltrane

    coltrane Well-Known Member

    Fresh in from the Guardian:

    Anyone expecting some sage advice from Her Majesty's Opposition about the iniquities inherent in the Work Programme may be disappointed when they read the article beneath the headline.

    "Labour warns jobless over work programme"


    "Party takes hardline position on welfare, with proposal to stop benefits for six months if job offer is refused

    Labour has said it would withdraw benefit from the unemployed for six months if they refused a government-provided job guarantee after completing a placement on the work programme.
    The proposals, hardening the party's position on welfare, were set out in a speech by the shadow work and pensions secretary, Liam Byrne, and in a Smith Institute pamphlet written by the shadow employment minister, Stephen Timms.

    Byrne said: "The right to work must carry with it a responsibility to work.

    "The truth is that the government is actually weakening the obligation to work. It is perfectly possible under the government's arrangements to sail through two years of the work programme and straight back on to the dole on the other side. We don't think that is good enough.""

    Now we know where the Labour party stand. They ain't going to challenge what the ConDems are doing, nothing so passe as a critique into their useless schemes.

    No, in a cunning tactical move they are going to outflank the ConDem position on welfare by going even further to the right. The spirit of James (the smug sneer) Purnell is alive and well.

    Or could it be that they are crapping themselves because any inquiry (as if the DWP are going to find anything wrong) into A4E or wefare-to-work in general (New Deal, Flexible New Deal) will expose the bogus sham bollocks that they were only too happy to coerce claimants to endure.
  19. wtfftw

    wtfftw Well-Known Member

    Shall we just bomb parliament?
    Frankie Jack likes this.
  20. We always knew what the Labour position was, surely? They started it all didn't they.
  21. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    They didn't take it this far.
  22. They didn't need to. No way on earth would the tories be able to come in and stop single mums looking after their kids with no conditionality until 16 and start telling cancer patients and other sick people, including the terminally ill to work fulltime or starve if there wasn't the groundwork done to make this acceptable.
    As you know, Labour started this off and the absolute silence on this just says it all.
    Frankie Jack and treelover like this.
  23. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    Okay, so Labour (or rather, New Labour) started this, unless you include the conditions for JSA which Major's government brought in.

    What do we do about it, from where we are now?
  24. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

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  25. ymu

    ymu Niall Ferguson's deep-cover sock-puppet

    We stop believing that voting for the least worst option every 5 years is a reasonable substitute for democracy?
    BigTom and Mr.Bishie like this.
  26. treborc

    treborc New Member

    It' s not mandatory now it seems personally I would not mind doing something for a few weeks if only to prove to everyone my disability is not a joke, but of course I'd do it because it helped me find work not Tesco or any other firm get free labour.

    I've a spinal cord injury
  27. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    More seriously, in order to change this we have to change the rhetoric and ideas about what unemployment is.

    At the moment, the dominant ideology is that unemployment is the failing of the individual - whether that is the undeserving individual (lazy, scrounger, faker, fraudster etc.) or the deserving individual (not the right skill set, not enough experience etc.). The only time that structural issues come in are when individuals are said to be priced out of the market by NMW or shut out by over-regulation.
    The whole discussion around unemployment is about the individual, the labour market and companies.

    This needs to be changed so that unemployment is about the way that we choose to organise the production side of our society. So that people are unemployed because we have chosen not to spread the work that needs to be done around, or because we've let our manufacturing base disappear, or because capitalism demands a pool of unemployed/reserve army of workers, to keep a downward pressure on wages, to help divide and rule etc..

    As unemployment rises, and more and more people are unemployed because there are not enough jobs, not because they are lazy or don't have the skills/experience, more and more people are going to start recognising that unemployment is a structural issue. How much effect that will have I don't know - I was too young in the 80s to compare it. I was fully aware of the early 90s recession but as an adult, this is the first time there has been serious economic problems, and the first time it is easy to say that there aren't enough jobs. 5-10years ago, in many places in the UK, you could fairly easily get a job, even if it wasn't what you wanted to do, and even though there would never be enough jobs for everyone. The rhetoric surrounding the failure of the individual makes much more sense in that environment, than the one we are in now.

    I don't know how we do this though.. for me that is the strategy.. tactics though, not a clue, aside from demos/direct action etc., and I'm not sure how much more that'll do. oh and, of course, revolution -> full communism ;)
  28. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    Only one of the 5 schemes (the Work Experience Scheme) has had sanctions removed - the other 4 (including the work programme that I assume you would go in from the WRAG group of ESA claimants) still have sanctions applied if you don't do everything - and if you don't volunteer for work experience, they'll send you on one of the mandatory schemes instead.

  29. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Bombing is too quick and "surgical".

    How about a couple of hundred thousand of us converge on Parliament, overwhelm the old bill, enter the place and tear it down with our bare hands, preferably tearing apart the members of both Houses while we're about it?
    ymu, Frankie Jack and Libertad like this.
  30. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    More importantly, we disseminate the idea that "voting for the least worst option every 5 years is a reasonable substitute for democracy" as widely as possible. Legitimate the nagging feeling in the guts of people that "something isn't right".
    Libertad likes this.

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