The head of the UK’s largest union, Unite, has issued a gushing statement praising Ed Miliband’s recent ‘worklessness’ diatribe in which he announced mass workfare should the Labour Party ever claw their way back into power.
According to Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite: “Ed Miliband’s speech offers hope that there is an alternative to George Osborne’s punishing experiment with the national economy.”
During the speech Miliband announced the party will bring in a “a compulsory jobs guarantee, young people will have an obligation to take a job after a year or lose their benefits”.
Those over 25 who have been unemployed over one year will also be subject to the same rules. These jobs will temporary and paid at the minimum wage, which will be funded by the tax payer. Employers will be required to provide an additional ten hours training – although whether those on the scheme will be paid for that training is unclear.
The scheme seems almost identical to the current Wage Incentive programme, the Tory scheme which is currently being rinsed by the private sector who are laughing all the way to the bank as the tax payer funds their wage bill. Under this scheme companies are paid by the government to employ young people on shit wages for six months before sacking them in favour of another government subsidised employee.
It appears that Len McCluskey supports one million workfare-style jobs being created with little or no job security and which are pegged at the minimum wage. This according to McCluskey is Milliband’s ‘alternative’ – a near carbon copy of a Tory scheme already in existence which will drive down wages for everybody and remove the right of young or long term unemployed people to choose where they work.
It also seems that McCluskey supports single parents being hounded by DWP busy-bodies to prevent ‘worklessness being passed down from one generation to another’. Miliband announced in his speech that even those with toddlers should be bullied by Jobcentres to carry out work related activity or training whilst their kids are at play school.
Presumably McCluskey is also in favour of the brutal Atos regime which has led to hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people having benefits slashed. Whilst Miliband claims the Work Capability Assessments that his government introduced needs some reform, he is adamant in his support for the tests and claims they are the ‘right thing to do’.
It is the right thing to do, according to Miliband, to find the people who ‘need help to get into work’ or ‘who can work without support’. In other words Miliband and McCluskey share the rhetoric that significant numbers of people on Incapacity Benefit are faking their conditions – or need some kind of Work Programme – no doubt involving workfare – to bully them into work.
Miliband didn’t stop there. He is also in favour of the introduction of the Personal Independence Payments – the replacement for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which has been designed to slash benefits from 20% of disabled people. All Miliband has to say about this Tory policy is that it is important to have the ‘right’ tests in this area, as if the Tory’s are proposing to have the ‘wrong’ kind of test. There is barely a cigarette paper between Miliband’s attitude to sickness and disability benefits and Iain Duncan Smith’s current vile agenda. And McCluskey is backing him all the way.
What Miliband didn’t say in last week’s speech is also significant. Whilst 600,000 people currently face losing their homes due to the bedroom tax, and another 50,000 at least due to the benefit cap, Miliband chose not to even mention it. And why would he, Labour support not just a cap on benefits for individuals but also a cap on social security spending overall. And whilst some in the Labour Party have shamelessly exploited those facing poverty and homelessness by pretending to be opposed to the bedroom tax, behind the scenes Labour were plotting a near exact same move themselves – something else that McCluskey is happy to get behind.
Miliband’s proposals will be a disaster for claimants and low paid workers alike, yet the head of the UK’s largest trade union is singing his praises from the rooftops. What is perhaps most contemptible of all is that Unite also run a Community Membership scheme for benefit claimants.
Unite have been only too happy to take money from claimants to subscribe to this branch of the union by pretending they are on the side of those on benefits. Yet as soon as their pampered pet in the Labour Party launches an attack on claimants they are the loudest voices in support. Unite Community members who choose to tear up their membership papers up after McCluskey’s shameful support of Miliband’s benefit bashing should also consider asking for their fucking money back.
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