Alice Carse, barrister, Devereux Chambers

Testing the fairness of workfare

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  • Given the new peer-reviewed Government-funded assessment of the impact of MWA, I'm not sure that a training argument, or an argument based on the jurisprudence requiring people to seek work for benefits, could stand up. The best evidence we have available is that the scheme does not improve employment outcomes. Thus it seems unlikely to meet either of those arguments, as it doesn't facilitate a positive outcome for the claimant.
    The "normal civic duty" exception feels to me like it would be rather a stretch. The work done isn't for civic benefit, so it is unclear how it could be a civic duty.

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  • The current system is fundamentally flawed for the following reasons.
    1. When all of the "open vacancies" are filled with Forced Labour Workfare Bodies, then there are obviously no "Vacancies left for the "Experienced Workfare Graduates"
    2.Subsequently the "Something for nothing society" is turned upon its head, as it is the Large Conglomerates who receive the "something for Nothing"
    ie: FREE LABOUR.
    Whilst attempting to refrain from getting too Political, it would seem that the alledged Abusers are now the Abused. ?

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  • What about Article 23.2? "Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work." If someone is doing the same work in a company they should get the same pay as everyone doing the same work, especially if it's a private company making profits for itself. Discriminating against the sick, disabled and impoverished is discrimination. It is forced free labour as these people are desperate and have no other choice.
    Many companies are calling it 'work experience' but many on workfare already have work experience and qualifications. Also 'work experience' is traditionally for under 18's and just for 1 or 2 weeks during educational holiday time.
    I am appalled at this government, especially as David Cameron said in May 2010: "The test of a good society is how do you protect the poorest, the most vulnerable, the elderly, the frail. That's important in good times, it's even more important in difficult times. People need to know that if they have me as their Prime Minister and they have a Conservative government, it will be that sort of Prime Minister."
    Forced free labour for self-profiting private companies is abuse and exploitation at best and is also bad for the current working economy. Why hire paid employes when you can get freebies? If it's not illegal, it should be in a so-called 'civilised' society.

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