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Saturday, 9 August 2014

TUC backing for workfare causes outrage

It really does seem to be 'the silly season' newswise, a time when humanitarian political activists are likely to be on holiday and political skulduggery comes more to the fore than at other times. How else can we explain the Trade Union Congress teaming up with the Confederation of British Industry to promote 'work for your benefits' for 16-23 year olds? [NB: Sorry for the typo in labels for this blog piece: For "18-23 year olds," read "16-23 year olds."]

This was disclosed on the Johnny Void blog on Saturday 2 August in a piece entitled TUC Side with Bosses to Back Tory Workfare Scheme and followed up with even more gory detail on Friday 8 August in a further piece entitled The TUC and Workfare: Sadly, It's Worse than You Think.

'Ivy'* of the KUWG has responded with justifiable outrage.
Here are some picks of eligible providers trusted by TUC to “train” 16 - 23 year olds:

Capita Plc is eager to train youths. After all, this multimillion profit making business just can’t afford to hire any. 
Camden council is also eager but not in this academic year. Unlike Milton Keynes where the council is raring to go.
Care Training East Midlands Ltd - will they get teenagers to lift, carry & bathe patients before those teens can “qualify” as minimum wage, zero hour contracted hospital staff?
Carillion Construction Ltd must thinks it’s brilliant not having to fork out on any construction site injuries like they would on real employees.
McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd in Barnet - well, those burgers won’t flip themselves... Much training needed at this impoverished multinational conglomerate.
Virgin Media Ltd in Hampshire - yeah, cause Branson (or his tycoon buddies) are way too skinned to hire 16 - 18 year olds. Damn those minimum wages - they burn a pocket in every stakeholder!
BT in City of London, Vodafone Ltd in West Berkshire & Phones 4U Ltd in Birmingham are all keen, just not in this academic year. But they are all eligible, thanks to TUC.  

So bravo TUC, way to defend youngsters against corporate abuse! That should really encourage them to join the unions. 
How convenient that this is a time when trade union officials tend to go on holiday! Will an automated 'out of office' email response be sufficient to assuage the justifiable outrage that such betrayals are likely to arouse?

But Swheatie of the KUWG recalls that the involvement of dodgy companies in supposed 'training programmes' is not particularly new; but what is new an particularly worrying — even without the TUC backing — is just how far 'conditionality' and threat of sanctions for 'work for your benefits' participants has replaced barganing power. Swheatie writes:

I do remember that it's now about 9 years since I got enough info between a letter from the Disability Employment Adviser at the jobcentre and attending an interview at A4e Holloway re their 'Health & Social Care NVQ' training course.

The info that I got by inference was that they were so accustomed to getting 'trainees' fed to them by the jobcentre that they did not bother to give any kind of motivating information that would help orient learners for successful outcomes and prevent them from seeking other training providers. (I had the comparative luxury of being classed as a 'casual' employee with an Islington based social care provider who paid £7.81 per hour per 3 hr shift of contact time, while successive 'zero growth budget' increases in funding from LB Islington meant there was minimal in-service training budget. Of course, I was also submitting part-time earnings forms at the jobcentre when signing on, and JSA regularly cocked up the top-up to my JSA.)
And one day while I was submitting part-time earnings forms at the jobcentre and not getting the top up money due to me, a conversation one day between one 'Client Adviser' and another in my presence gave me a slight window into what was going on for young people on 'work experience' administered via the jobcentre at the time. The 'Client Adviser' in front of whom I was signing-on told her colleague, "I get really annoyed with these 'training schemes' that take people on with Internet companies such as NTL and then spit them back onto the dole queue as soon as the 'training period' is over'."
A caring jobcentre worker was annoyed at such a state of affairs. What did Virgin 'entrepreneur' Richard Branson do about the matter? He probably rubbed his hands with glee at the ethos of a scheme having a similar ethos to his as an employer renowned for discarding businesses as new ones emerged under the Virgin brand. For in February 2007, Virgin subsumed NTL, presumably along with freebie youth trainees as yet more cash cows to help make Sir Richard Branson what he is today.

* Name disguised for reasons of confidentiality

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