In an astonishing and genuinely sad day for the trade uni0n movement, the TUC have teamed up with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to issue a statement supporting unpaid work.
The TUC have sided with the bosses to sing the praises of the Tory Traineeship programme. This unpaid scheme can involve up to five months full-time work, sometimes for giant profit making companies like BT or Virgin. The placements are used to ‘prepare’ young people to be Apprentices, although there is no guarantee that they will be offered even this at the end of the scheme.
Just like Margaret Thatcher’s despised YTS schemes, Traineeships represent a wealth grab by greedy employers. Once companies recognised they had to pay young people whilst they trained – now the tax payer will pick up the tab whilst the worker gets nothing. And just like the YTS programme was used as political cover to strip benefits from 16/17 year olds, Traineeships will be used to undermine social security payments for those under 25. George Osborne has already announced that under 22 year olds who refuse a Traineeship will soon face the prospect of six month’s workfare somewhere else instead.
Despite Osborne’s announcement, the TUC say in the statement that Traineeships should be voluntary. As claimants themselves know, very little is voluntary such is the current mass benefit sanctioning culture at the DWP. This doesn’t seem to bother the scabs running the TUC who seem to have decided that Traineeships aren’t workfare, and even if they would rather they were voluntary they appear to back them anyway. This is an appalling attack on not just young unemployed people, but all workers who will see their own wages and conditions undermined by an army of unpaid staff.
It is hardly surprising that the CBI are salivating at the prospect of this huge subsidy for business at the expense of the working class. Tory Skills Minister Nick Boles has joined them saying he is ‘delighted’ that the TUC support this scheme. They no doubt dream of a day when they don’t have to pay people under 25 at all. That day may not be far away and that the TUC are helping to bring it closer is as shocking as it is shameful.
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