Thursday, 23 February 2012

For Real Jobs - Not Workfare!

Under the government's workfare scheme young people must work 30 hours a week, for eight weeks, and receive no additional pay on top of their Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), which they are threatened with losing if they do not participate. Protests have taken place across the country against a number of companies participating in this scheme, including Tescos, whose profits were £3.5billion last year! The news has reported in the past two days that Tesco have withdrawn from involvement in the government's workfare scheme. They have announced they will only accept work placements that are voluntary, will pay these workers the same wage as other employees and will guarantee an interview at the end of the placement.

See article here:

While this is a victory, and it reflects the pressure put onto them by a number of protests across the country, it is nowhere near enough! In many ways it looks a lot like New Labour's 'Future Jobs Fund' which sparked protests for being short-term work placements with no guarantee of a job at the end. Pressure still needs to be maintained on Tesco to ensure they stick to their announcement.

Eight weeks work at minimum wage is hardly enough; too many people are having to stitch together a patchwork of part time hours at minimum wage just to get by. This will not end the scandal of up to zero hour contracts or the pitiful minimum wage which remains lower for young people. Most importantly it will not solve the government's jobs massacre. We need to fight not only for existing jobs to be paid a decent wage and to be secure; we also need to fight for job creation via investment in public services.

Many other companies continue to participate in the workfare scheme, including MacDonalds, Burger King and HMV. The Community Action programme still exists, which will see people sent out to do jobs like litter picking or cleaning graffiti off walls. These jobs are supposed to be done by properly trained public sector workers who get a wage, a pension and other workers’ rights.

From the 1million unemployed young people, to the public sector workers being made redundant or having their hours and pay cut, to the unemployed forced to work for free, nobody wins in this situation except the bosses and the government. The government is using unemployment to undercut the pay, terms and conditions of those in work while the working-class is threatened with a race to the bottom.

Youth Fight for Jobs totally rejects this. We face these attacks on our rights and living standards because we live in a society that is geared to making the maximum profit for a tiny minority of very wealthy people.

Youth Fight for Jobs calls for:

• Keep up the pressure to force all companies remaining part of the Work Programme to withdraw immediately

• All unemployed people currently on a placement to be taken on with a proper wage

• Scrap the Work Programme entirely

• A minimum wage of £8 an hour, regardless of age

• Mass investment in a programme to create socially useful jobs and real apprenticeships with guaranteed jobs at the end (for example, a mass house-building and renovation programme, to create jobs and provide affordable and decent homes to the millions on the housing waiting lists)

Join the Protest and Picket on 3rd March in Brighton: