Does the scandal of Close Protection UK’s Jubilee stewards stranded at London Bridge without any facilities presage the use of forced voluntary labour for the Olympics, and expose the many inequities of Workfare schemes?
The TUC’s new Charter on work experience and workfare sets out the distinction between bad work experience and good, blogs Richard Exell at http://touchstoneblog.org.uk/2012/05/say-no-to-workfare/
Workfare – making unemployed people do unpaid work in jobs that would normally be done by paid workers – is triply unfair. Firstly, it is unfair to unemployed people –unpaid work is exploitation, pure and simple. Secondly, it is unfair to workers – when they have to compete with workfare conscripts some workers will lose their jobs, others will find that their pay, overtime or other conditions deteriorate (and the workers who lose most will be the weakest and lowest paid.)
Thirdly, it is unfair to other businesses. Employers who don’t use people on workfare will find it difficult to match competitors who are effectively being subsidised. You don’t hear this point very often, but progressive businesses have a very good reason to oppose workfare.
Workfare isn’t the only unpaid work that’s around at the moment. Plenty of government employment programmes offer “work experience” which may not be substituting for the work of other workers but still has all the other characteristics of a job.