Thursday, 11 March 2010

Working for nothing after 13 years of New Labour

Despite high levels of unemployment due to the impact of the recession jobseekers in Greater Manchester will be the first to be forced to work up to 40 hours a week as part of the Work for Your Benefits (WfYB) pilot scheme.

The Manchester region is set to be the testing and trying out ground for a government initiative that will see unemployed people put into mandatory work placements for up to six months just to hold on to their Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Yes this has been introduced by this Labour Government to force the unemployed and others dependent on benefits to take low played employment, that’s of course if there is any, what with unemployment set to rocket and hit the moon and stars after the general election, who ever wins!

Below minimum wage

From October Jobseekers who have failed to find a job at the end of the Flexible New Deal programme will be required to undertake full time employment for between £50 and £65 a week, the equivalent of as little as £1.27 an hour. Concerns have already been raised that, with the numbers of unemployed rising, people who genuinely cannot find a job will be forced to work for next to nothing in an unsuitable role. The programme (renamed Flexible New Deal from October 2009) of active labour market policies was introduced in the United Kingdom by the Labour government in 1998, initially funded by a one off £5bn windfall tax on privatised utility companies. The stated purpose is to reduce unemployment by providing training, subsidised employment and voluntary work to the unemployed.
The New Deal introduced the ability to withdraw benefits from those who refused "reasonable employment". A complementary project was introduced in 1999, the Working Families Tax Credit. This is a tax credit scheme for low income workers which provide an incentive to work, and to continue in work, and please notice introduced by Nu Labour to subsidize Labour costs and focally help not the workers but the capitalists, the owners of the means of production, so at least during the last 13 years someone has benefited – The Boss!

Workers wages could fall by 12 per cent

So it will be Greater Manchester Job Seekers who will be first in line to suffer a mandatory 6 months of 40 hours per week work in return of their benefits. This Work for Your Benefits (WfYB) pilot scheme will begin when Flexible New Deal Phase 2 begins in parts of the country which isn’t already doing Flexible New Deal (phase 1). This means unemployed persons will be working for below the National Minimum Wage. Using the 22 year old (and over) rate of £5.80 and £51.85 per week JSA rate (lower; less than 25 – takes into account the increase in April) works out at £1.30 per hour for a 40 hour week, which is roughly 22% of the National Minimum Wage.

Some suggest that the scheme will affect the working population as well as those claiming benefits. “This flood of unwaged labour into the market will have a big effect on low waged jobs. When a similar scheme was introduced in the US there was a 12 per cent decline in pay for low-income jobs’.
Businesses will be paid for each person they get into a work placement. This has raised fears companies might ignore difficult cases or put people into unsuitable positions just to receive the commission.

Labour MP John McDonnell placed a parliamentary question in December regarding the employment rights that participants in the scheme will be entitled to. He is concerned that, since they will not be technically employed, those taking part may be put in danger as they may not be covered by health and safety legislation.

Do we live to work or do we work to live?

A wage slave is a wage slave. That is capitalisms hold over the working class, and we have all heard of Slave rebellions that have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery, and are amongst the most feared events for slaveholders.
Famous historic slave rebellions have been led by Denmark Vesey; the Roman slave Spartacus; the thrall Tunni who rebelled against the Swedish king Ongentheow, a rebellion that needed Danish assistance to be quelled; the poet-prophet Ali bin Muhammad, who led imported east African slaves in Iraq during the Zanj Rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate in the ninth century; the Haitian Revolution, the only country founded by a slave revolt; Madison Washington during the Creole case in 19th century America; and Granny Nanny of the Maroons who rebelled against the British in Jamaica.

But never has there been any group of slaves demanding the right to be held in slavery has there? So why are we the workers of the world allowing this situation to continue, it’s time to get of our knees and fight back?


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2 comments:

Chris H said...

I really, really don't understand how a party such as Labour, or even the law of the land have allowed this to happen. To say disgusted falls really short of how I feel inside.

Why employ people on a living wage when you can employ them on the minimum wage. Why employ people on the minimum wage when you can employ them for £1.27 an hour?

If there's jobs available for people to do then let them be paid a fair wage, not use the state's resources to bump up capital's profits and force a race to the bottom for workers' wages!

And then we have Brown's recent talk to the city explaining how the working people of this country are going to pay even further for the bankers' greed.

There's talk at the moment about a resurrection of the left within the Labour Party from groups like Compass, but I'll be damned if I can see it.

What option does the man in the street have? None as far as I can see except to accept the sorrow that will be laid upon him so the wealthy and privileged can carry on with business as normal.

Norbert said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your comment, things are quite bad what fills me with disgust is that the recent benefits changes will force single parents to look for work once their child is 7 (and attend work-focused activity from when their child is 3), they will make sick and disabled people more ill with stress by forcing them off Incapacity Benefit/ESA and onto Jobseekers Allowance.

The Public and Commercial Services Union were on strike this week as you know in order to prevent their redundancy pay from being cut – which would make it easier for the government to make job-cuts. Many of the DWP workers are low paid – the basic wage of a clerical assistant is just 24p an hour above minimum wage.

Increased privatisation would lead to redundancies and poor conditions for DWP staff and less face-to-face interaction between Jobcentre workers and claimants (with even more use of call-centres). As has already been shown by the use of companies like Atos Origins, A4E and Work Directions, privatisation means mistreating (often vulnerable) people claiming benefits in order to make profit for private businesses.

I very much agree with what you say about a Labour Party resurrection, this is wishful thinking the damage is done, self-inflicted as it loses a third of it's voters.

I think the man in the street will come into play after the GE when things become worse for us all!

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