Just days after the TUC teamed up with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Tory Ministe Nick Boles, to sing the praises of unpaid work, a shocking document has emerged which goes even further in endorsing workfare.
As unearthed by @refuted, the TUC have issued guidleines to union reps on what they should do if their employer plans to take workfare placements. Astonishingly the TUC even appear to want to help reps to: “approach their employer to provide young unemployed people in their area with a good quality work experience placement“. They are not just refusing to oppose workfare, but are actively encouraging it in unionised workplaces.
There then follows a description of what the TUC have decided is good workfare but which barely even resembles the current schemes. Their claim that “Work experience placements should not continue for more than a few weeks“ comes despite their previous endorsement of Traineeships which can involve up to five months unpaid work. Workfare should also always lead to a job or an Apprenticeship say the TUC, yet not one of the current work experience programmes offers this.
The TUC claim workfare employers should provide fares, lunch and any other out of pocket expenses, yet it is the providers managing the schemes that are responsible for paying fares. The companies running the latest workfare placements are even warned: “You must not give (and ensure host organisations do not give) any incentive payments or rewards to the claimant for participation in CWP”. So there goes lunch.
Laughably they even say people on workfare should be informed about “workplace employment rights” when those on unpaid government schemes do not have any fucking employment rights. Get sacked, and you will probably get sanctioned.
On the question of compulsory workfare – and all unpaid work comes with a heavy dose of Jobcentre coercion whether backed by sanctions or not – the TUC are vague. All they are prepared to say is that the best workfare placements are ‘voluntary’ and that they don’t like the curent benefit sancioning regime. And that’s it. This is their craven response to forced unpaid labour under the threat of poverty, destitution or homelessness. The same poverty that recently killed David Clapson. They don’t like it. It makes them feel bad. But they are going to do fuck all about it and seem to think sanctions are worth it for all the wonderful training workfare offers.
It is unclear whether the TUC expect their conditions to be met before an employer begins using workfare. What is certain is that they never will be, the rules of workfare are written into legislation. There is no guidance on what a rep should do if their employer ignores these demand. The answer seems to be nothing.
No-one expected the TUC to be much help in the struggle against welfare reforms, but for them to openly side with Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP is obscene. Their intervention could not have come at a worse time as the government attempts a massive roll out of the biggest workfare programme yet. It will be claimants resisting this attack on working rights, not tired old union bureacrats. But if the TUC are not prepared to back those who actually face unpaid work then the best they could do is get out of the fucking way.
You can let the TUC know what you think @TUCnews. Don’t expect them to listen though.
The guidance is available at: http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/learning-and-training/work-experience-placements-guidance-union-reps
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