UPDATE: Byteback are out of workfare, top work everybody and fair play to them for admitting to making a mistake
— Byteback IT (@Byteback_IT) July 16, 2014
A computer repair shop in Bristol has become one of the first companies to be caught boasting about forcing people to work without pay on the latest workfare scheme.
Byteback IT Solutions were recently featured in the Bristol Post after being visited by George Osborne due to their involvement in Community Work Placements. These placements involve six months full time workfare under the threat of benefits being stopped.
This is a wonderful arrangement according to the company’s director Andy Town who said: “We recycle old computers so if they turn it on and make it work, everyone’s a winner but if they don’t, there’s nothing to break and it hasn’t cost us anything,”
When challenged by one critic of the scheme, @andygale on twitter, the company claimed, in a string of now deleted tweets, that people on workfare are ’employees of the state’, as if it’s perfectly acceptable for private companies to have their wage bill met by the tax payer. This is the real culture of entitlement, bosses and businessmen scrounging off the state. In truth workfare workers are nothing of the sort, employees get paid minimum wage after all.
As pointed out by @refuted, Byteback are a profit making company who charge a minimum of £45 an hour to fix computers. DWP regulations require that any mandatory unpaid work schemes are for organisations which can demonstrate a community benefit. Whilst Byteback carry out computer recycling, what this means in practice is that you can drop off your old computer and they’ll strip it for parts they can flog on for a profit. Depending on what you want to recycle, they might even charge you. It is difficult to see how this company has any more of a community benefit than the local scrapyard or second-hand electrical shop.
With proper community organisations increasingly condemning Community Work Placements as exploitative, it is likely to be smaller companies like Byteback who have a dirty little workfare secret. It is vital that they are exposed as the workfare profiteers they are so that all their customers can make up their own minds about whether they want to use the services of a company involved in forced labour. It’s time to send a message to every grubby two-bit business out there who thinks they can make us work for free – snip – see above tweet, Byteback say they are out of workfare.
To name and shame companies and charities using workfare visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?page_id=16
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