It was a rather typical Tory sort of policy, get people off the dole any which way, not caring what they do just that they do something else.  It is not one fuelled by a desire to have people in work for their own benefit and development as a consequence then also of benefit to society at large, it is not part of a drive for full employment, the Tories since 1979 have always favoured policies that keep inflation down rather than do anything for the poorest section of the population.  You might think that keeping inflation down does in fact help the poorest parts of society but it would do so only were wages to continue going up above the rate of inflation as it changed, otherwise it is simply a matter of by how much your income is diminishing in real terms.

The Workfare system has a great deal of one without any of the other, there is no alternative way to look on it than it being slave labour.  Tory protests come in the form of saying that this is a scheme that enables people to get a job at the end of it, this may well be true in some cases, but there is no guarantee of it.  Furthermore to have the spectre hanging over you that you may lose your benefits is somewhat draconian.  I might have more time for the scheme if in the first instance people were given chances to do public sector jobs paid a living wage, or given the chance to work/volunteer in hospitals, youth clubs, environmental schemes, old people’s homes, homeless shelters, schools and others of direct benefit to society rather than being used to prop up the profits of already wealthy giants on as little money as possible.

It is no wonder that companies were in a rush to take part, this for them is a win-win, they get to take on the people they wish to at the end of the scheme, whilst exacting work for nothing from those they don’t.  It circumvents the interview process by holding a knife to the throats of the participants being forced to take part or suffer a loss in benefit.  This alone saves them a not inconsequential amount of time and money in not having to advertise and go through tiresome and lengthy interview and offer processes.  That companies have got their fingers burnt is heartening at least in terms of the level of public outrage to the program, the fact that companies were all to happy to involve themselves in the first place tells us much about our society, the companies who are running it and their contempt for people at the bottom of the social and financial pile.

However there is an equally more sinister element to the slave labour and that is the repression that is beginning to accompany the opposition to the policy.  The government are clearly getting very tired of protests accompanying every scheme they have to privatise each last public facet in the country and with the debacle of the Health Bill being the final straw they have decided that enough is enough.  The rhetoric surrounding begins as pretty standard petulant Tory bollocks.  Campaigners are branded by David Cameron as Trotskyites and fronts for the Socialist Workers Party, it is part of a “left-wing plot” according to Chris Grayling the Employment Minister, whilst Iain Duncan Smith has labelled detractors “out of touch” and that the schemes are “brilliant.”  Given this return to the days of the workhouses and cotton mills where labour was cheap and exploited accordingly one wonders what time it is that Smith is living in that we may be out of touch from, and whether indeed we wish to be in touch with it were we to know.

According to the government the minority, trotskyite etc. etc. protests have spooked the companies who would otherwise have continued in the scheme, which again says much about both parties here.  Hold on a second though since when have national and multi-national corporations listened to anything a small group of active left-wing campaigners said or did?  Let’s be honest governments don’t give a shit about a huge groundswell of public opinion and millions taking to the streets against wars so where would the incentive for corporations be exactly?  The oil companies have brazenly given public opinion the finger and the banks have pillaged the public coffers (with acquiescence of the last two governments) in spite of sustained widespread outrage.  What companies do care about is money, and for that they must rely on the consumer, if the consumer stays away the company loses business and revenue and confidence and that makes major shareholders very cross, so in fact far from these actions being the consequences of the left-wing campaigns and campaigners they are a great deal more likely to have been caused by the edicts from the most right-wing!

Thankfully for a start the Tories have now dropped the section dealing with cuts in benefits to those dropping out of the schemes, they claim this is not at all to do with public pressure, but then they would say that wouldn’t they?!

Song Of The Day ~ The Wailers – Slave Driver

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