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To: Dundee City Council

MAKE DUNDEE A NO-WORKFARE CITY

MAKE DUNDEE A NO-WORKFARE CITY

We believe that a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay, and no-one should be forced to work for benefits. We call on Dundee City Council to do all in their power, without delay, to MAKE DUNDEE A NO WORKFARE CITY.

1/ We call on the City Council to agree that it will not itself be party to any workfare schemes and that it will make non-participation a condition for any organisation in receipt of council funding.

2/ We also call on the Council to give official backing to a well-publicised campaign to give formal recognition to all businesses and organisations who agree not to participate in these schemes.

Why is this important?

This is an idea that received unanimous support from the Dundee Fairness Commission. The Scottish Unemployed Workers' Network is calling for it to be translated into action.

People unable to find work are increasingly being made to work for nothing on pain of losing their benefits and being left destitute. There have been various different work-for-your-benefits schemes - including Community Work Placements that mandate people to work unpaid for 30 hours a week for 6 months, a total of 782 hours, or more than 2 ½ times the maximum community service given as punishment for a crime. The DWP doesn’t actually use the term workfare, which comes from the United States where this approach was developed, but it is a convenient word to use to cover all the different schemes that both punish and exploit the unemployed. Very few of these schemes provide anything at all in the way of useful experience, and the people forced to do them are often treated like skivvies both in the work they are made to do and the attitudes shown to them. Far from building their confidence, as official documents suggest, this forced labour saps the spirit and wears down people’s mental health. And if they deviate at all from what they are being instructed to do they can end up sanctioned and penniless. In addition, rather than increase the numbers of people in paid work, these schemes actually cut across the creation of paid jobs. Why pay someone to work when you can get the labour for nothing? They also provide unfair competition to businesses who want to do the right thing by their workers.

These schemes are a major source of worry for everyone who is faced with them, but they have not gone unchallenged – and challenges have elicited widespread support. Naming and shaming of companies and organisations who have exploited this forced labour has persuaded many well-known names to pull out of these schemes, and the Government refuses to publish the names of organisations involved as this would expose them to protests. Keep Volunteering Voluntary has persuaded large numbers of charities and non-profit organisations to sign up to their promise not to use forced labour.

Workfare is an integral part of the ‘welfare reform’ juggernaut that is destroying our welfare state. We don’t have the power to change the rules, but a concerted programme of resistance organised at city level could provide a significant contribution to making them unworkable, and also highlight what is happening to those not already aware.

We see the first (simple and easily instigated) steps as falling under two headings:

1/ We call on the City Council to agree that it will not itself be party to any workfare schemes and that it will make non-participation a condition for any organisation in receipt of council funding.

2/ We also call on the Council to give official backing to a well-publicised campaign to give formal recognition to all businesses and organisations who agree not to participate in these schemes. This would be similar to the scheme operated by Keep Volunteering Voluntary (who are very interested in the idea of a no-workfare city), but would include commercial organisations and not just voluntary ones. Organisations who have agreed not to exploit workfare would be listed in a well-publicised website and licensed to display a ‘no-workfare city’ logo on their window and publicity materials so that the general public would know where they could go without patronising organisations that use forced labour. This sort of opt-in scheme would avoid the difficulties of getting the accurate and up-to-date information needed for a name and shame list. However, it does need to be very well publicised so that organisations feel under sufficient pressure to take part.

Publicity would also help prevent small voluntary organisations from being persuaded by misleadingly worded DWP documents into thinking that by participating in these schemes they are helping unemployed people. It would enable them instead to provide real help that people can access on a voluntary basis.

Dundee

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Reasons for signing

  • Slavery should not be endorsed by Government, but abolished completely.
  • I do not consider it to be right for people to be treated like slaves because they cannot get work due to unfair trade deals cause by the EU. Everyone working should be paid a wage. This is intimidation and bullying and wrong on so many levels.
  • Workfare benefits greedy employers and no one else.

Updates

2016-04-24 21:29:14 +0100

100 signatures reached

2016-04-24 14:53:24 +0100

50 signatures reached

2016-04-24 13:25:14 +0100

25 signatures reached

2016-04-24 12:38:02 +0100

10 signatures reached