Thursday, 16 February 2012

Short workfare rant

I am against people working for their dole.

Whilst you're working for that dole you're not able to do other things that might improve work prospects - people should be encouraged to study, do short-hour voluntary work to try different fields, to expand their horizons.

Shoving people into short-term contracts with commercial organisations to answer phones or stack shelves doesn't help people find work, it just makes people feel like the dole isn't an easy ride and therefore less resentful of those in receipt of it.

Can people on Workfare join unions? No, because they're short term contracts. Who will protect the rights of those on Workfare? The DWP isn't exactly known for standing up for workers' rights. What if a Workfare provider just takes people for 8 weeks time and time again, maybe interviewing people at the end of their time, but never taking anyone on for paid work?

How do you think disabled people will fare on Workfare schemes? There's no Access to Work provision for voluntary work, and without being on sickness benefits people often aren't recognised by DWP staff as needing access adjustments.

What about parents? Or carers? They will also be forced into workfare, which isn't going to be as flexible as it might need to be.

The dole shouldn't be conditional on people working for it - if there's a job to do, and it's with a commercial organisation, that should be a paid position. Work for dole becomes akin to work-based punishment - it's punitive, demeaning, and unhelpful.

I did the maths - one person employed for 30 hours a week, for 8 weeks, not being paid £6.50 an hour is donating £1,560's worth of labour. Multiply that out to the 24,010* that have done Workfare so far and that's £37,455,600 of donated labour.

Voluntary work needs to be voluntary - given willingly, not through coercion, or the whole basis of volunteer work is undermined and demeaned.

Something I hear said is why should "the taxpayer" fund people who "choose not to work?"

If someone has “chosen not to work” they need to be shown what can be achieved with work – and a short-term job, without the benefit of a decent wage packet gives an individual neither the social benefits of working (meeting new people, building self-confidence, developing skills, for example) nor the extrinsic satisfaction of a healthy pay packet. That’s why I say it’s simply punitive. If people are employed for 8 weeks, pay them their 8 weeks’ wages! Then maybe people will start seeing why it’s worth working.

If someone “chooses not to work”, why is that? Why is life on £54 a week + some rent a better choice for someone than work with a proper income?

I suspect often people will have underlying unaddressed depression or anxiety disorders – but the DWP will do nothing to help address that. Or unrecognised learning difficulties – again, being sent on key skills courses may be useful, but learning to read & write doesn’t help with the wider cognitive issues linked to Dyslexia, Dyspraxia or ADHD.

And now, to add to this, people on Employment Support Allowance – people considered disabled in such a way that they may be capable of some work in the future face fucking indefinite “voluntary” placements or face sanctions!


1 comment:

Nic said...

It's the assumption that anyone who is unemployed must have chosen it that annoys me the most. Shortly followed by the assumption that, of course, they're doing absolutely nothing about it and are even quite happy with the situation.

Because there are so, so many who are trying so hard to find work and are thoroughly miserable about being unemployed. When I graduated, I hated it when people asked me "So how's the job hunt going?" when what they actually meant was "When are you going to stop sponging off of our taxes?"

Because, of course, graduate jobs just grow on trees.

But anyway, I am certainly not in favour of Workfare. If the scheme is intended to help people back into work, then the people involved should come away with something that puts them in a better situation than they were in before. That should be new experience or new skills, things that will serve them well, that will be good to include on the CV, things that employers are actually looking for. There should be a chance of full time work at the end of it, or a good reference, providing they've done good work. But as far as I've seen, the only benefits of Workfare go to the employers. There's something very wrong with that.

Working for your benefits... to be honest, I'm not sure what my views are on that. But if that is now the expectation, they should work the hours that would earn them their JSA and no more. Apart from anything, these people will need a lot of time to actually look for work. As they say, that's a full time job in itself, and matter will not be helped if their time is swallowed up by unpaid work that will ultimately lead to nothing.