Back to the workhouse

The methods that the rich are willing to use to squeeze every last bit of profit for themselves out of workers seemingly knows no limits. Not content with putting hundreds of thousands of people on the dole through sackings, the rich, capitalist classes now cry that these same people, who they put out of work, are lazy and undeserving of the paltry £53 a week that they receive to live off whilst having to search for non-existent jobs. The con-dem government has listened to the concerns of the rich and implemented a scheme whereby people will be forced to work for free or have their job seekers allowance stopped, in what certainly harps back to the infamous workhouses of Victorian Britian.

The scheme known unofficially as workfare is a way for big businesses such as Tesco, Asda, Mcdonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Primark, Boots, The Arcadia Group of stores which includes Topman and Burton amongst a host of others to add to their already enormous profits by effectively employing slave labour.

An unemployed person can now be told by the Job Centre that they must work 30 hours a week for a company such as Tesco that has offered them ‘work experience’. They will not be paid for this work, nor even guaranteed a permanent job with the company once they have completed the 26 week placement. If they refuse to perform unpaid labour for the company offering the placement then they will have their benefits stopped for 13 weeks the first time they refuse to participate, for six months the second time and for three years the third time, condemning them to possible homelessness and starvation.

Unemployed persons are thus forced to work for free and to produce value for the company employing their labour. Companies such as Asda which already make over £10 million profit in a single day benefit, while the workers who create this wealth get nothing. The scheme has already forced 24,000 people to work without pay whilst Tesco a company that made £1.9billion in the last six months exploited 1,400 of those working. Some of the workers employed in this way even have to do nightshifts and work in freezers without proper protective clothing.

Aside from the moral outrage this scheme provokes there is also the absurdity of it. Implemented by the champions of the free market, the conservative party, the scheme is actually using public funds to provide the job seekers allowance the person receives in lieu of any proper payment from the company. So the government is subsidizing large corporations’ labour costs.

The capitalists clearly think that they can get away with this robbery. If it were up to them they would have us all working for free, and unless the working class forcefully resists the workfare scheme then they will get their way, this can already be seen with permanent Tesco staff being sent home early from work as the company has people working for free.