Category Archives: JSA/Workfare/Work Programme

Disabled People Not Worth Minimum Wage Says Lord Fraud, Time For This Nasty Fucking Clown To Go

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“Nearly everything I’ve done has been total chaos.”

Comedy toff and Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Fraud is a joke that stopped being funny a long time ago.  Of all the blundering fucking idiots in the DWP, this failed banker, who cost investors millions due to a series of bungled deals, has shown the true face of the out of touch gilded elite that dominate all of the main political parties.

This is the man who thinks people queue up in foodbanks just for a laugh and not because they are hungry.  The same prick who threatened every Women’s Refuge in the country with closure and wanted to charge the very poorest benefit claimants to have banks manage their personal finances.  The clown who doesn’t even know how much the dole actually pays despite being in charge of reforming it.

His recent comments at the Tory Party Conference, where he agreed that disabled workers are not worth the minimum wage, are a new low  If he stays in his job after this we will know the truth about attitudes towards sickness and disability at the DWP  – as if we didn’t already.  They are not just ignorant about disabled people’s lives, out of touch and incompetant.  They actively believe that disabled people are worth less than non-disabled peopl and so do not deserve the same rights as non-disabled people.  That if you are born or become sick or disabled, then you are a sub-class who should be forced into a lifetime of poverty carrying out below minimum wage work.  Is it any wonder that unpaid work is fast becoming the new segregation for many disabled workers?

Fraud revealed his rancid opinions at a conference fringe meetings when utter cunt, and Tory Councillor, David Scott (@DavidScotttw) said: “I have a number of mentally damaged individuals, who to be quite frank aren’t worth the Minimum Wage.”

Lord Fraud agreed saying: “Now, there is a small… there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually…”

The comments came to light after Ed Miliband challenged David Cameron about Lord Fraud’s comments at Prime Minister’s Question Time today.  What Miliband didn’t mention is that this very same bastard was at the heart of Labour’s own Welfare Reforms such as the shambolic and cruel Atos run Work Capability Assessment.

Fraud enjoyed impoverishing sick and disabled people so much that when the Tory Party weren’t elected he crossed the floor and joined them so he could carry on with his sick farce.  He has been ususually frank about his incompetence, once admitting in an interview that: “Nearly everything I’ve done has been total chaos.”  But he is a nasty piece of shit as well.  In a just and moral society, both Lord Fraud and his boss Iain Duncan Smith would be put on trial for the horrific suffering their policies have caused.  In the society we’ve got the best we can hope for is that he’s shuffled off to one of his mansions and kept out of public life permanently.  It can’t fucking happen soon enough.

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A Visit To Urban Futures Shows The Nasty Side Of Charity Workfare

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Boycott Workfare and Haringey Solidarity Group today occupied the premises of Urban Futures in protest at ther involvement in the government’s Community Work Placement scheme – better known as workfare.

Hidden away on an industrial estate in Wood Green London, Urban Futures run a training centre where unemployed people are sent by Jobcentres to be processed and referred to workfare with local so-called charities.  Today protesters visited the company with the aim of speaking to the inmates forced to attend under threat of benefit sanctions.  On entering the offices, one person politely explained the reason the action was taking place whilst others began to hand out leaflets.

The mood quickly turned ugly.  Urban Futures staff, presumably furious at having their authority undermined, began tearing up the campaigners leaflets whilst others started grabbing and illegally seizing personal property.  Protesters were repeatedly pushed and manhandled whilst one management looking type laughed at how he enjoyed profiting from harassing and bullying unemployed people.  Others made snide remarks about protesters getting a job, showing their true attitude to the people they pretend they are supporting.

Very soon around a dozen police turned up and seemed slightly bemused at the over the top reaction from Urban Future’s pumped up employees.  At this point campaigners decided to leave, with property such as phone and bags eventually reluctantly returned.

Even outside some of the staff at Urban Futures seemed determined to throw their weight around.  When campaigners stopped to talk to some claimants having a fag, the company’s employees immediately ordered their inmates not talk to them and tried to usher them inside.  One jumped up prick then informed us that these people were taking part in work related activity and were therefore not allowed to talk to anyone.  Really.

People sent to Urban Futures are forced to work for six months or face desperate poverty as their benefits are sanctioned as part of George Osborne’s misnamed ‘Help to Work’ scheme.  Nobody looked like they were being helped today, except for Urban Futures who are helping themselves to a huge chunk of tax payer’s money.  Instead the environment resembled an open prison, with people shoved into rooms to hang about waiting before they are finally shipped out as forced labour for local charity shops like the one run by North London Hospice who face a protest of their own this Saturday.

Urban Futures have a half-arsed social media presence on facebook and twitter @urbanfuturesuk

There’s still time to get involved in the Week Of Action Against Workfare, keep an eye on Boycott Workfare’s website for the latest news.

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Take Action: Bring Down @GroundworkUK’s Community Work Placements in the North East

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Click to enlarge

From Boycott Workfare

Community Work Placements would collapse without support from major charities. Today, as part of our week of action, we are contacting the major charities who provide CWP placements for Groundwork in the North East of England (six months’ workfare for 30 hours per week). We’re asking them to commit to not taking part in any of the government’s workfare schemes.

Yesterday, the website of Groundwork North East listed all the charities providing them with placements. These include Cheshire Homes, British Heart Foundation, Barnardo’s and Scope, as well as over 15 more local voluntary agencies in Redcar or who are part of Redcar Voluntary & Community Sector. As Groundwork also say, as well as having a ‘fantastic working relationship with the local job centres’, they work in close partnership with Christians against Poverty and local food banks.

What they don’t say is that workfare is a major cause of poverty and a major reason why people end up depending on food banks for food. We know how Community Work Placements are being marketed to employers as a way of replacing paid jobs.

Groundwork have since removed the webpage – but we’ve got a screenshot (click on the image above to enlarge it).

The involvement of well known national charities is disappointing. BHF have previously stated “We are not involved in the Help to Work scheme. Barnardo’s have said “Barnardo’s does not take part in any mandatory work activity. We have been clear that we are against the principle of benefits sanctions”. Scope are signed up to the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement, which commits them to not taking part in any government workfare scheme.

So what’s going on? It looks like the culture of secrecy surrounding workfare (e.g. the refusal of Freedom of Information requests, redaction of placement providers from contracts on the grounds of ‘commercial sensitivity) is enabling placement brokers like Groundwork to mis-sell forced labour as volunteering.

We have to ask: is this secrecy compatible with the duty of charities to be open and honest about their activities? To ensure that the public, who donate to charities, are fully aware of whether they do, or do not, support forced unpaid labour in any guise?

We understand that because all aspects of workfare are cloaked in secrets and lies, some charities providing placements may well have been misinformed. It can be especially difficult for small, local charities to avoid being deceived. But if an organisation gets a letter that refers to the same group of people as ‘unpaid employees’, ‘volunteers’, and ‘unemployed people’ – and emphasises that the organisation won’t have to pay anything for them (even travel costs) – then alarm bells should start ringing. And when well known workfare fixers like Groundwork get in touch, it’s more than likely it’s for placements for JSA claimants who’ve already been unpaid on the work programme and are now being sent on CWP for up to six months more unpaid labour.

As for British Heart Foundation, Barnado’s and Scope: you can let them know that the public expect them to honour their commitments not to take part in workfare. And expect them to remember that they have a duty of care towards those on current placements: these organisations must ensure that they do not face sanctions or suffer as a result of the organisation withdrawing.

You can send a message to BHF via their website or phone their head office on 020 7554 0000. You can tweet at them @TheBHF

You can phone Barnado’s North East regional office on 0191 240 4800, contact them on Facebook and tweet at them @Barnados

You can get in touch with Scope’s media and PR via email pasca.lane@scope.org.uk and tweet at them too @scope

Groundwork North East can be reached on the phone (01388 662 666), on Facebook, and on Twitter @GroundworkNE

And Groundwork UK are on Facebook and Twitter aa @GroundworkUK . Or you could contact them through their website, or on the phone (0121 236 8565). They have other local branches throughout the UK. To find contact details for the nearest one to you, look here.

Please feel free to contact the other placement hosts listed on the Groundwork North East website as well. There’s not many, and if half pulled out, Groundwork’s CWP contract would be ruined.

I missed yesterday’s online action, but you can still tweet using hashtag #HospiceCareWeek and ask hospices not to be involved in government workfare schemes.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Hundreds of Illegal Sexist Job Advertisements On Government Job Seeking Website

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Hundreds of jobs advertisements on the government’s Universal Jobmatch website are in breach of equality laws and the problem extends far beyond the shameful age discrimination featured on the BBC yesterday.

Radio 4 reported on adverts on the website asking for ‘young’ or ‘recent’ graduates, warning this may be illegal under the Equality Act.  It is not just older people however who face discrimination on the website that unemployed people are forced to use by Jobcentres to look for work.  The shocking truth is that there seems to be no control over whether jobs advertised on the site meet equalities legislation.

Over 600 current job vacancies ask for a “handyman”, whilst one employer is looking for a “girl friday”.  Another discriminates against same sex couples by asking for a “guy and girl Friday”.  All of these advertisements are likely to be illegal.  As Citizen’s Advice explain:

“With a few limited exceptions, it’s illegal to publish or broadcast an advert which discriminates because of sex, or which advertises discriminatory services. For example, it is illegal for an employer to advertise for a job using words like ‘craftsman’ or ‘handyman’, as this might give the impression that the job is only open to men.”

Significantly, it may not just be the employers posting these vacancies who are breaking the law.  As providers of an “employment service”, the DWP themselves could be acting illegally for publishing these advertisements.

This doesn’t seem to bother anyone at the department, who have already brushed off the BBCs claims saying they don’t think phrases such as ‘recent graduate’ are discriminatory.  This is despite the government’s own recruitment guidance to employers clearly stating: “Only use phrases like ‘recent graduate’ or ‘highly experienced’ when these are actual requirements of the job. This could discriminate against younger or older people who might not have had the opportunity to get certain qualifications.”

Not for the first time the DWP are treating laws that don’t suit them with contempt.  Perhaps of equal concern is that so many employers don’t yet seem to have caught up with rules that were first introduced as part of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975.  But of course employers can do no wrong in the eyes of Iain Duncan Smith.  That’s why he largely left them to their own devices as they cluttered up Universal Jobmatch with scam, spam and spoof vacancies.

Universal Jobmatch has been a fucking shambles ever since it was launched at huge cost back in 2011.  Even the job adverts that actually manage to stay within the law are often duplicates, flaky self-employment ‘opportunities’ or employment agencies touting for CVs so they can spam people for the rest of their lives.  With no safety information and clearly no checks on whether employers posting jobs to the site are genuine, then unemployed people are at real risk if they use Universal Jobmatch.  But use it they must, on Jobcentre computers at least.  Otherwise they face their benefits being sanctioned

If you are required to sign up to Universal Jobmatch you still do not have to tick the box giving the DWP access to your account and can untick the box giving them permission to send you emails.  You should only be forced to use the website in Jobcentres.  For tips on how to avoind being pressurised by Jobcentre busy-bodies visit the Refuted website.  To save time when using the site you can also download Universal Automation.

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Here Comes Pauline … Supervised Jobsearch Revives The Worst Of The Past

pauline-pensIt is hard to imagine that anyone could have watched the League of Gentlemen’s brutal satire on the job clubs of the 1980s and 90s and thought that it seemed like a good way to help people  find work.

But Iain Duncan Smith did.  He probably thought it was a fucking documentary.  And so his latest Supervised Jobsearch pilots have wrapped up all the cringe-making aspects of past back to work schemes and rolled them up into one Pauline inspired fuck up – although USB sticks, not pens will be the latest obsession for job club staff.usb-sticks-are-the-new-pensSupervised Jobsearch was Iain Duncan Smith’s big idea at last year’s Tory Party conference.  It then seemed to have been largely forgotten about until someone at the DWP panicked and realised they’d have to cobble some shit together in time for this year’s conference.  As usual this involved throwing money at the grasping welfare-to-work sector who have been brought in to manage the scheme which will see unemployed people warehoused for 35 hours a week pointlessly pretending to apply for the same handful of jobs over and over again.

There is little doubt that this scheme is intended as punishment for unemployment, rather than any kind of genuine help for unemployed people.  According to recently published guidlines for the companies running the scheme (h/t @refuted) they will receive no additional payments for actually finding people work.  In fact getting people jobs is barely mentioned once. Instead they will be paid 10% of the contract value when the participant starts, a further 5% per month for the next six months and the final 60% when the period of incarceration ends.  5% of the value of the contact will only be paid if the providers can show they have administerd what are known as DMA’s correctly, meaning referrals to the Jobcentre for benefit sanctions.  There seems to be no mention anywhere of job outcome payments.  Benefit sanctions are the true purpose of Iain Duncan Smith’s latest crazy scheme.

The welfare-to-work sector – who have run a long campaign complaining that they are expected to get people jobs for the money we give them – will be pissing themselves.  All they now have to do is shut people in a room with a computer for 35 hours a week, make sure all the paperwork is correctly filled out and Iain Duncan Smith will shower them with tax payer’s money.  This is possibly their  biggest benefit scam so far.  But you won’t see that on the front page of the Daily Mail.

The provider guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supervised-jobsearch-pilot-dwp-provider-guidance

Of note is Annex L which states that “claimants cannot be mandated to apply for vacancies which include a zero-hours contract”.

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Take Action Against @GroundworkUK: No Grounds For Greenwashing Workfare

groundworkuk-ruining-livesFrom Boycott Workfare

Groundwork boasts of its involvement in workfare. Join in with an online blockade of their social media and let them know what you think of their prolific and unashamed use of forced unpaid labour.  

Take online action today against Groundwork, the green charity using unpaid labour. Branches of Groundwork up and down the country openly advertise their involvement in all kinds of workfare, including the latest and most exploitative programmes.

Charities and voluntary organisations should know the value of volunteering. Instead Groundwork is taking thousands of unemployed people on workfare placements with no pay and putting people at risk of sanctions. According to their own statistics they forced 4,500 people through workfare last year alone. They trade on the goodwill of their ‘volunteering’ projects to secure government money for unpaid labour schemes.

Groundwork is also taking part in the latest draconian scheme, Community Work Placements (CWP), as a sub-contractor of G4S in Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria. CWP is a six month long placement – twice the length of the maximum community service sentence for committing a crime.  Workfare criminalises unemployed people and then punishes them more harshly than other people who are forced to work for free. It does this without even the appearance of judicial process: people are punished just because they’re unemployed.

More than 400 charities and 22 councils have rejected CWP and other workfare schemes by signing the Keep Volunteering Voluntary pledge. They understand that workfare is punitive and that it doesn’t help people find jobs.

Following the latest attacks from the government on unemployed people, in which the Tories are promising to cut benefits and roll out more of the harsh schemes like the ones Groundwork provides, we need to show those involved in workfare just how unacceptable it is.

A lot of green charities and recycling companies are involved in workfare schemes. The environment is a useful alibi for forcing people to work for free, because it makes it easy to claim that the work unemployed people are doing is for “community benefit” – which it is supposed to be, if the scheme is one that people can be directly forced to do, like CWP or Mandatory Work Activity.  This is why there’s so many environmental charities, city farms, and recycling firms on our list of workfare exploiters.

Workfare schemes cannot operate without charities that are willing to take on unpaid workers, but Groundwork’s involvement is deeper: they help organise the schemes as well. Groundwork say they recognise that Jobcentre Plus is enforcing a “stricter application…of conditions and sanctions”, but they continue to help to run this punitive system anyway. Let them know about the hardship and destitution that benefit sanctions are causing. Let them know that forcing people to work under threat of destitution for no pay is wrong.

Groundwork are on Twitter  @GroundworkUK and on Facebook here.

Or you could contact them through their website, or on the phone (0121 236 8565).  They have local branches throughout the UK.  To find contact details for the nearest one to you, look here.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Take Action! Challenge The TUC’s Support For Workfare: @PayRise4Britain Must Mean Wages For Everyone

traineeships-300x257From Boycott Workfare

Challenge the TUC’s support for workfare, on the first day of online action for the Boycott Workfare week of action

On 1 August 2014, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) made a joint statement with Confederation of British Industries (CBI) to back Traineeships for 16-23 year olds and “show support” for the businesses that benefit from the unpaid labour on this scheme.

Traineeships involve training and “work placements” for up to six months – all unpaid. The TUC’s Assistant General Secretary Paul Nowak hails Traineeships as “an important first step towards the world of work”. But in giving a green light to a new layer of unpaid work in the economy, the TUC is in fact helping to shrink opportunities for young people, undermine the going rate, and replace paid work with workfare.

Traineeships mean that young people are now expected to work unpaid for six months before even qualifying for an interview for an apprenticeship. The lucky few who make it through the interview can look forward to a minimum wage of £2.73 an hour, as an apprentice.

TUC A5 Protest

If a young person does not take part in the training, they face punitive sanctions. The work placement segment itself may not be backed with the direct threat of sanctions, but, between the economic coercion of a jobs market with so few footholds and the draconian job centre regime, few people will feel able to turn them down.

Instead of demanding decent wages, the TUC is supporting McDonalds, Toyota, Virgin Media, BT, Vodafone, Phones4U, Siemens, Capita, local councils and many more being supplied with unpaid staff for up to 6 months on benefits alone, without any obligations to hire them!

The TUC plans to march behind the slogan “Britain needs a payrise” on 18 October. It seems to have chosen to ignore the millions of us who do not have paid work and instead face workfare and sanctions.

Today as Kilburn Unemployed Workers protest this shoddy deal outside the TUC HQ in London, please contact the TUC via the details below, or through your union networks.  

When challenging their support for Traineeships, you might also like to point out that:

  • The TUC’s support for Labour’s Job Guarantee means undermining the going rate and minimum wage too.
  • The TUC’s support for benefit sanctions is totally unacceptable. It has recommended that ‘claimants who turn down a job guarantee job without good cause should face benefit sanctions’. Let the TUC know that punishing people by taking away their means to survival can never be okay.

Contact the Assistant General Secretary who issued the statement with CBI by email: pnowak@tuc.org.uk or send him a tweet: @nowak_paul

Tweet at Frances O’Grady, the General Secretary of the TUC: @FrancesOGrady 

Tweet at “Britain needs a Payrise” @PayRise4Britain or post on its Facebook

Post on the TUC’s Facebook page

Or get in touch with the TUC’s press officers who released the statement:

Rob Holdsworth    T: 020 7467 1372    M: 07717 531150     E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Tim Nichols   T: 020 7467 1337   M: 07876 452902   E: tnichols@tuc.org.uk

If you’re a member of a trade union, please download and adapt this motion to challenge the TUC’s support for sanctions and workfare.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid