It was with depressing inevitability that we read today that Boris Johnson and the DWP are piloting yet another salve labour scheme (Unpaid work plan for Londoners, The Guardian, 29th August 2012). Having seen one of their workfare schemes, the Work Experience Programme, left in tatters as result of public outcry the government and the bosses coming back for another crack. Their determination to save on labour costs for their big business mates really is something to be admired.
The scheme will mean that young Londoners will not be able to claim JSA without having done at least six months work before hand. 6000 placements will be “created” as part of the scheme. The DWP employs a nice bit of intellectual gymnastics when they claim that it “ties in directly” with Johnsons pledge to “create 200,000 jobs in the next four years”. Actually not a single job will be created by this or any other workfare scheme. All the government is doing is making sure that the companies and organisations that take these people on don’t actually have to pay wages. This also poses a threat to public sector workers as many of those voluntary organisations will be running outsourced public services.
It’s a win win situation! For big business and the government at least – the government can appear to be doing something about the modern day scourge of unemployment. And businesses can get work done on the cheap.
If Grayling and co are serious about ending “a something for nothing culture that does no-one any favours” why don’t they do something about those that actually caused this crisis. Why don’t they take money of the bankers who caused the economic crisis in the first place and are still receiving huge bonuses? Why don’t they take the £800 billion that sits in the accounts of big corporations? Why don’t they collect that uncollected £120 billion in taxes from the super rich. All this money could used to invest in public services and provide genuinely socially useful jobs and training.
Youth Fight for Jobs and Education will continue our efforts to build a mass campaign against salve labour schemes. We want to see a united movement of the unemployed, young people and trade unionists to beat back austerity and build a future for young people.
Paul Callanan, Youth Fight for Jobs and Education, national organiser
Chris Baugh, PCS assistant general secretary
Billy Hayes, CWU general secreatry