15 Feb 2012

Wanted: Free Labour for Tesco

Edit: It would appear that the "permanent" part was some sort of error on Tesco's or the JobCentre's part. They aren't forcing us into permanent posts yet. The whole thing is still bullshit though.

Edit 2: Tesco have pulled out and started their own scheme.Tesco still suck, but at least they're paying their work experience bods. And pissing off the Torygraph to boot (it "undermine[s] the Coalitions own efforts", apparently).
Tesco, and anyone complicit in this, should go fuck themselves. There are several more articulate ways that I could have phrased that sentence, but none of them would have quite had the impact appropriate for a response to a call for someone to work in a permanent post 6 week stint for their Job Seekers' Allowance (back up link in case the actual advert has since been removed, (credit to @latentexistence for the screenshot)) The title of this post was only mildly hyperbolic, if that.

Did I mention that the post was permanent? (it turns out it isn't, it was just a mistake)

Of course, this is only a particularly egregious development (although probably not a unique one) in the ongoing attacks on what Tory rhetoric calls a "something for nothing culture" on the part of people. meanwhile, they're sweeping the fact that "something for nothing" probably applies more to companies under the metaphorical rug.

For instance, from May to November 2011, 24,010 people were forced into unpaid placements for a month. On pain of losing benefits for 1/4 of a year. Because, y'know, it's not like the placements at, say, "high-street chains" would have been suitable for anything other than government-subsidised unpaid labour or anything like that. (charity work is also an option (still a rather dodgy one considering it's forced), but charities aren't the ones getting the contracts).

In addition to this, there are cases such as the one of Cait Rielley, who ended up on a two week placement at Poundland stacking shelves (for 'training'). Of course, Poundland could have really needed the help, for example their Christmas sales went up by 25% last year. You can't expect them to actually pay their workers, can you? Anyway, why's she moaning when some people have placements of six months. That was sarcasm in case you haven't guessed.

It might be worth making a note of the 'logic' behind forcing people to work for well below minimum wage. The idea is that paying companies to take on free labour will get the people forced to work into the habit of working again, as "a sanction" for 'sabotaging' attempts to get them jobs (warning: Mail link, and it's one of their really dodgy ones as well). Sometime down the line, this will magically get them an actual paid job (of which there are, of course, no shortages). 

Actually, the point the 'Coalition source' made to the Mail about workfare being a "sanction" ("But is it meant as a sanction? Yes – and we are convinced it will have an effect") may well be hitting straight to the point about why the Government is doing this. The idea of people getting jobs at the ends of it is secondary to a vindictive rage at those who have the misfortune to be unable to find a job (when there are 6 people looking for every vacancy, it's not exactly fair to ay that unemployment's down to being 'workshy'). There's this twisted logic that trying hard enough will cause a job to materialise.

The really ironic thing being that, if anyone's sabotaging people's attempts to find work, it's the Government giving companies free workers. Why the hell would a company hire someone (even for under a living wage), when they can get someone to work for them for free? I'm not some sort of economics expert (my knowledge runs to Freakonomics and intuition for the most part), but I don't think you have to be one to realise that - if workfare was ever really intended to get people into work without a great deal of doublethink being applied - something, somewhere has gone horribly wrong. Unless there's some fancy counter-intuitive economics thing I don't know about (which I'll concede as being a possibility).

Of course, to answer my rhetorical question, public outcry could force companies to at least vastly reduce their 'employment' of people on workfare (it worked on Sainsbury's and Waterstones), and there's a day of action on the 3rd of March. Because, seriously, this whole thing is bullshit.

See also:
Boycott Workfare
A Latent Existence: Who benefits from the Work Programme
A Latent Existence: Government work placement schemes little more than slave labour
Edingburgh Eye: The ideology of workfare