Workfare Slavery Infects the Public Sector

News comes from Ipswich Unemployed Action that workfare slaves are now being recruited to work in Jobcentres.  Not content with forcing unemployed people to stack shelves in Tesco all night for no pay, it seems that the DWP no longer want to pay their own staff either.

Three vacancies have been identified so far, all for jobs in admin positions of up to 30 hours a week with no pay.  This might come as a shock to DWP staff, many (if not most) of whom are threatened with redundancy.

Of course the real question is whether this comes as a shock to Public Sector Worker’s union, the PCS. It looks an awful lot like public sector workers risk being laid off in favour of workfare staff, a perfect hit for this government, attacking benefit claimants, public sector workers and saving money all at the same time.  It’s the kind of thing you might expect a union to be somewhat narked about.

The TUC have declared opposition to workfare even if some unions don’t seem to have quite caught up.  Billy Hayes, head of posties’ union the CWU, has said on twitter that the union’s apparent support for workfare is under investigation and that he does not support it.  We await the results of his investigation, but you can chivvy him along at:

The PCS, who it must be said have been by far the most supportive union  towards claimants, and are doing a fine job standing firm in the dispute over pensions, are in a difficult position.  After all it is current Jobcentre staff, many of whom are likely to be members, who currently refer people onto workfare schemes.  This is something that should have been resisted a long time ago.

But that doesn’t mean it can be swept under the carpet, the stakes are now far too high.  If the PCS take further strike action over pensions, which looks likely, will workfare staff be forced to scab or face losing benefits?  Could workfare be used as an attempt to break any further strike action by the PCS?

Of course this sounds like hyperbole, scare-mongering even.  But then last year I wrote that the new benefit changes, under some circumstances, could lead to “cancer patients, forced to do physical work and not being given enough money for food.”  This was supposed to represent a worst case scenario.  As it happens, according to the Guardian, this could now become government policy.

So will the PCS be resisting this exploitation of unemployed workers being forced to work alongside their members for no pay?  The PCS are on twitter at:!/pcs_union.

Perhaps it’s time to ask them.

In the meantime PCS members should be warmly welcomed by claimants  should they attend an event as part of the National Day of Action Against Workfare on March 3rd.  And claimants should, and will, continue to support the PCS in their battle over pensions.  We are all in this together after all.

There’s an inevitable petition up opposing workfare at:

18 responses to “Workfare Slavery Infects the Public Sector

  1. Three vacancies have been identified so far, all for jobs in admin positions of up to 30 hours a week with no pay.

    WTF! I

    This might come as a shock to DWP staff, many (if not most) of whom are threatened with redundancy.

    Well to be honest I do not care about DWP staff because they agree to work in employment that damages and hurts others and are often nasty and vindictive to boot.

    nobody should be forced to work for nothing ever…….. and now they are going to force the disabled and terminally ill onto the work fare program this government needs to be taken to the EHRC before it is too late.

    • bbest, the DWP staff to who you refer would like to be helping people. Please don’t disparage them for things which are beyond their control.

      • Hi Dave unfortunately I have met a few that don’t and it is to those that I refer, I expect too much because all my live I have worked in employment that effects others and if I thought something was wrong or an injustice I walked away.

  2. if you got ‘sacked’ from a workfare job for ‘gross misconduct’, I’m thinking of DPA breaches, what would your status be, since you have not signed contract?

    • As there have been reports of abuse of workfare program staff terrified of losing their benefits you can bet at the very least they would be sanctioned as all the blame would be placed on them by the companies concerned.

  3. let me re word that

    If you got a workfare placement in the DWP and looked up your own records, you would technically be guilty of gross misconduct and could be fired but because you have not signed a work place contract, you are not guilty, so, what would happen?

  4. i would be most interested to here from anyone that has done or takes one of these positions

  5. Pingback: If You Don’t Think Workfare Is A Workplace Issue You Need To Think Again.

  6. dwp takes in workfare bods, assigns them to a monumental horrid task, the monumental horrid task goes tits up, the dwp says, ‘oh dear, it went tits up, we will have to consign the task to the dump’ and they get to dump some back logged task.

    it would mean the mandarins get to remove something odious from their to do lists, with out actually doing it?

  7. Iain Duncan Smith :Arbeit Reichsminister…..soon to be new Fuhrer a.k.a. The British Hitler.
    I keep saying : there is ZERO effective resistance in this country.
    Obviously,even the broken Unions can’t even stand up for their own,never mind anybody else.
    New Labour is Old Tory.
    LibDems are traitorous scum.

    • MiKi67 I agree I just wish I was not sick as I would get out there and create a bloody civil war as that’s all we have left now.

      badnewswade, love the vid, hahaha

  8. Come now, where’s your sense of patriotism? We’re going to need all the Workfare serfs we can get now we’re committed to nuclear power for another 30 years!

  9. PCS opposes Work Experience, as opposed to voluntary work, both internally and externally. PCS believes that the government should be investing in real jobs, not cutting them as it is currently doing in DWP and all major government departments. PCS activists already work with and support unemployed workers through involvement in anti-cuts campaigns and supporting claimant groups. PCS also has a clear position on welfare reform that can be found: and

    I would also expect our policy to be updated at our annual conference in May on our campaigning on these issues.

    The vast majority of PCS members in the DWP genuinely want to help claimants whether that be with their benefits or helping them back into work. Attacking them is not helpful in terms of solidarity and fighting these issues together.

  10. Helen I agree, we absolutely should be standing together. The new workfare schemes are handing more and more discretionary powers to DWP staff. Referral to the Mandatory Work Placement scheme is entirely down to the opinion of Job Centre advisors. Perhaps this is an area the PCS could look into and whether non co-operation with the scheme is possible.

  11. Pingback: Scab or starve – why workfare is an attack on us all. | Cautiously pessimistic

  12. Even the police are using workfare!
    More DWP admin roles (possibly as many as two thousand!), VOSA and councils also using workfare, old job vacancies from 2008 still active distorting active job counts (you know the half a million at one time figure) and a job interview listed as a job advert… doubling vacancies!

    All at the above link! I bet many people cannot wait for the 3rd of March. Apparently Tesco is in crisis talks with the DWP – this must be fears of the 3rd!

    If a compromise is met, I will welcome the legal action! They wont remove sanctions but will memo decision makers not to raise doubts against those at Tesco who leave or don’t turn up… that is not just or rational if someone say at Argos lost 6 months benefit for the same offence.

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