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Work for free and 'be of benefit' to a multinational like Tesco

A Tesco job advert offering 'JSA plus expenses' reveals the sinister reality of government work experience schemes.



So now we know. Back in August last year, I wrote a comment piece for the Guardian,
focusing on the increasing noise about people being forced to work in
return for their jobseeker's allowance – an idea whose roots extend well
into Labour's time in government. It focused on two things: so-called
mandatory work activity (MWA), whereby people are forced – via the
threat of their jobseeker's allowance being suspended – to put in 30
hours a week doing work "of benefit to the community"; and other "work
experience" schemes, in which people do up to eight weeks of unpaid
labour, with one proviso: they can refuse to take part or pull out
during the first seven days, but thereafter the work becomes compulsory,
under pain of their benefit being withdrawn.

Yesterday, my colleague Shiv Malik pointed to the numbers of people involved
in the scheme between May and November last year; 24,010 had done MWA,
while 34,200 had participated in the second kind of work experience. The
key revelation, though, was that in the last month for which there were
figures, MWA numbers were outstripping those for non-compulsory(ish)
work experience by 8,100 to 6,600. In other words, MWA seems to be
mushrooming, along with its hardline sanctions regime: the first time
you refuse to take part, you lose your benefit for 13 weeks; the second,
for six months. Subject to the passing of the current welfare reform
bill, rejecting MWA for a third time will mean no benefit for three
years – and, one assumes, destitution.At which point, it's worth
pausing to reflect on what all this actually entails.


Thanks to
referrals by both jobcentres and private-sector Work Programme
providers, it's about people effectively working for nothing, not only
in charities and the public sector, but in huge retail chains. Thanks to
the legal action launched by Cait Reilly,
we all know about Poundland. Asda, Boots, Argos and TK Maxx, and the
Arcadia group (including Topshop and Burton) are also involved. Hats
off, perhaps, to Sainsbury's and Waterstones for announcing that they
have ended their involvement with this kind of work experience, but if
you want an indication that workfare may be turning into an immovable
part of the private-sector economy, consider last night and today's
blizzard of outrage about a Tesco ad
placed on the Jobcentre Plus website. It's for nightshift workers in
East Anglia, who will be paid "JSA plus expenses". In response, Tesco's
Facebook page has been transformed into a glorious example of an online
demo, brimming with anger. "I'll be boycotting your stores with
immediate effect until you stop this exploitation – I will also be
urging all my friends and family and contacts to do the same," goes one
post. "No more Tesco for me until you withdraw from this government
workfare scheme … It is compulsory forced labour," says another.

The
company are trying to keep a lid on it all, with little success: "You
can delete as much as you like but this will now go viral," offers one
poster.On Twitter, Shiv Malik revealed other adverts for similar roles at Tesco, and Tesco's explanation shifted. As Left Foot Forward reported this morning,
their initial line was that they "are taking part in a government-led
work experience scheme to help young people" which "has already led to
300 permanent jobs". They then put the advert down to "an error made by
Jobcentre Plus" and claimed that it should have been "for work
experience with a guaranteed interview at the end". As far as I can
tell, they still want to employ nightshift workers for nothing.

Whatever the answer, the crucial point is that unpaid work – bad enough when it
applied to supposed "interns", but grim beyond belief when used on the
unemployed – is now being built into what some people call The New
Normal. Given the thousands involved, it clearly represents a boon to
the kind of multinational giants whose profit margins must be creeping
upwards thanks to the plentiful supply of people – and please, all you
free-marketeers, read this bit slowly – effectively paid a pittance to
work for them by the taxpayer. Note also the way that even more sinister
aspects of all this are pointed up by the breakdown of people who've
done work experience, as opposed to MWA: 13% of work experience
"participants" are from ethnic minorities, but when hardened compulsion
is used via MWA, that number rises to 24%.

Last year, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson told me the "community benefit"
meant that MWA would be kept out of the private sector – but on the
ground, that doesn't seem to be working, at all. Now the DWP claim only
that they "expect that every placement will offer people the opportunity
to gain fundamental work disciplines, as well as being of benefit to
local communities". Also, if you still think that all this denotes only
short-term arrangements that aren't an offence to public morals and
shouldn't be too onerous for anyone, consider one of the more overlooked
aspects of current welfare-to-work practice: something called the community action programme,
under which people are mandated to work for their benefit for up to 26
weeks. That's six months, to you and me. Such outrages continue to be
rolled out at speed; the horror is only compounded by how little
attention mainstream politics continues to give them.


Added: Feb-16-2012 Occurred On: Feb-16-2012
By: allyssa
In:
Politics
Tags: Tesco, exploitation, slave labour, boycott, UK government policy
Location: United Kingdom (UK/GB) (load item map)
Views: 2105 | Comments: 23 | Votes: 4 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
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  • This is not a new idea, in fact the Pharaohs of Egypt used the same scheme to build the Pyramids.

    I think we have more slaves today than in any other time throughout history.

    I have no issues paying (through my taxes) to retrain or educate young people, mothers returning to work or anybody who needs a job, but to make them work for free is just criminal. Sad really.


    .

    Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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  • tescos makes billions and is exploiting the poorest and most vulnerable to get free labour paid by the government back door welfare to work 30 hours a week for £67.00 fucking disgrace

    Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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  • The logo should read:

    TESCO, Every Little Slave Helps.


    .

    Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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  • yep my 20yr old is doing this right now 36 hours aweek for fuck all, this time its only for four weeks last time it was 26 weeks for no wage .

    our son applys for at lest four to five jobs a week and gets nowhere he did well at school and collage

    Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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    • @dinglbat Its everywhere i fear for mine in coming years as they get older.

      Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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    • @dinglbat
      My daughter (aged 19) has been working on minimum wage at Hobbycraft. She only worked 16 hours per week. They have now cut her (and others in the same situation) hours to 10 p/w.
      Yet the government still considers that as working! WTF is going on?

      Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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    • @allyssa our son is doing work exp and classed as working while in reseat of benofits so there for he is employed ,thats how they re the goverment fiddle the figers

      Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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    • @allyssa The next step with NHS reforms is to say employers provide top up health insurance for full time employees people say it wont happen but the Tories are obsessed with the USAs health system and British employers will just do what walmart do only employ people below management level as part time hours avoiding the responsibility its coming especially if they get reelected have you noticed all the prime-time tv ads for health care insurance unemployment insurance scary.

      Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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    • @dinglbat i went for an interview for the new tesco in southbank before xmas but got turned down. then got a call out the blue to do nights on grocery 10-7, start trainin next month (store doesn't open til april) i hope they don't think i'm workin for JSA cos you know if they do i'll have half the fuckin shop in my shed lmao!

      p.s apparantly theres an ongoin arguement that they're exploitin the area by paying the lads at teesport depot ALOT less than elsewhere in the country because they despera More..

      Posted Feb-17-2012 By 

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  • Isn't a top-down run economy grand? I would continue looking to your politicians for answers, they will undoubtedly fix everything. /sarc

    When you demand your government regulate the economy it will (every time) result in the regulations helping big corporations and screwing the little guy, it's a historic fact. If the market was left to operate and no one got special favors than and only than can the small guy compete with the big boys. Corporations getting taxpayer help is in no way free mark More..

    Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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  • This is a disgusting policy and very far from Conservatism.
    Not only is it unfair to the unemployed (youngsters mainly). This is deliberate interference in the market that favours the giant multinational companies at the expense of small businesses.
    How can I, as a person running a small food retail business, hope to compete with these giant food retailers who are able to employ staff for nothing?
    Slavery was supposed to be abolished!

    Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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  • Tescos cant wait to get its fingers into the new NHS reforms imagine the amount of people it can refuse treatment to using the personal data it holds on millions of people through it loyalty card schemes.We have never had one too much information about your lifestyle and habits right there.

    Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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  • sorry but if you are forced to work then you should be paid minimum wage.
    they flood the country with migrant workers, who work for less wages.
    then crash the financial system and force the unemployed to become slaves so they can try keep them from loosing there house and feeding the family.

    this is how bad it is ...my wife's is reg. disabled with asthma, bad chest,heart attack last year, if she was a pet we would off popped her a couple years ago. :O)
    we survived on £159 pounds a week, becaus More..

    Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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  • I urge anyone who is being hassled by the jobcentre to go to a provider to read this site THOROUGHLY .

    http://www.refusewp.com/
    You don't have to sign their data protection forms, it is optional and they cannot sanction you for it. Even if you have already signed data approval forms you can retract it on the grounds you were made to sign under duress (i.e threat of benefit sanctions).
    And if you don't sign the data forms it makes it very diff More..

    Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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  • Comment of user 'tinabeans' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • I worked as a cost consultant for Tesco Property for a year. They do not fuck about when it comes to paying out. If they give you money it's because to not do so would in some way be detrimental to them. No morals - must maximise shareholder returns at all costs (except theirs). There are constant management re-shuffles, and 3 month rolling contracts to ensure people are ruthless with suppliers - which results in withholding of payments to small suppliers, which then leads to their eventual bank More..

    Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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  • Comment of user '2cr51' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • The Co op has joined the scheme. They told me off the other day for drinking a take away coffee so I told them of, loudly, in front of a long queue for subscribing to slavery.

    Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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  • SLAVERY ! ! !

    Posted Feb-16-2012 By 

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