Yet whilst the so-called fighting PCS Union has dithered over benefit sanctions and workfare that is exactly what has happened under their very noses at the DWP.
As spotted by @boycottworkfare, Employment Minister Esther McVey recently boasted that 4,300 unpaid workers on the Government’s Work Experience scheme have been press-ganged into working for the DWP over the last three years. This could represent up to one million hours of forced labour – potentially replacing nearly a two hundred full time jobs over the same period.
Whilst the Work Experience scheme is officially ‘voluntary’ claimants who refuse to work for free at the DWP can face being sent on a mandatory workfare scheme instead. George Osborne even recently announced that this was to become the policy for people between 18 and 21 – who will in future be sentenced to up to 780 hours forced work if they turn down an unpaid Work Experience position.
As well as no wage, young people on the Work Experience scheme have no working rights. If they are sacked for gross misconduct they face benefits being sanctioned. Gross misconduct under these terms could potentially include refusing to cross a picket line.
Some unions, such as the BFAWU, have recognised the very real dangers to all workers from workfare of any kind. Sadly the PCS, the union for DWP workers, has remained silent whilst this grotesque exploitation has taken place. PCS members have already instructed their union to take tougher action on benefit sanctions and yet nothing appears to have happened. Perhaps it’s time for PCS members who care about their jobs and working conditions to bypass their tame union leadership and take matters into their own hands.
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