have called a day of action for Saturday 3rd March 2012 to boycott
Workfare as anger grows at this mandatory work programme.
Here Minnie Stacey gives us a Sonnet about unemployed people working for
free. While a long term unemployed worker tells their story, and Carol
Laidlaw says what she is doing about workfare.
SEX AND THE CITY
Derided scapegoats, dissed by tabloid hate,
the undeserving poor must work for free
as slaves within a plutocratic state
where henchmen act like sheepdogs, faithfully.
Work Programme pimps with Stockholm syndrome ethics
frame jobseekers as if they were to blame,
and chasing vacancies, the new athletics,
means racing to the bottom is the game.
Madame at A4E will sit on top
to shag the public purse and reproduce
a bung because it’s bound to be a flop,
this sexed-up economics of abuse.
Misanthropy, she’s living in a palace,
the unemployed her profitable phallus.
Shakespearean Sonnet (56) by - February 2012
Written on 10th February 2012, the day the press reported that the Chair
of A4E, Emma Harrison, paid herself £8.6m this year, most of it
from the taxpayer. A4E is one of the firms the Tory government awarded
a contract to run the Work Programme.
The A4e Work Programme
Written by a member of the long-term unemployed - 13/2/2012
The A4e Work Programme, it's like having a probation officer to report
to on a regular basis, without having committed any crime. I have two
academic degrees, a BA and a Masters, and don't require any assistance
with writing CVs and letters, or with personal presentation and interview
technique. I'm healthy, drug, debt and child free, and don't need any
agency intervention to help me back into employment – just the job.
It was only recently that A4e stopped suggesting I attend a 'mock interview'
so that they could judge my performance, with the possibility of an X-Factor
type makeover, A4e style, afterwards. With consistently positive genuine
interview feedback, they finally stopped offering me this when I impressed
the Executive and Artistic Directors of the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse
Theatres at a real job interview. In response to a request for feedback
I received a report saying I did nothing wrong - my application, test
and interview were all excellent and impressive. Unfortunately, although
the directors 'wrestled with the decision', I didn't get the job and somebody
else had the winning lottery ticket for that gig.
I have a good track record of being in full-time employment and do not
require any so-called work experience, which is patently unpaid labour
to boost the already bursting coffers of corporations so that the 1% can
steal more phoney profit. A4e can't do anything for me except monitor
me in the context of a prolific job search and application process. They
check that I'm looking for work, no matter how precariously temporary,
part-time and low paid, and keep a file on me containing the evidence.
My self-esteem is intact and I’m well aware that, in a media whipped-up
climate of prejudice against 'undeserving dole scroungers', as an avid
applicant, not being able to get a job is not my fault. Any attempt to
discuss politics, a paucity of proper jobs and the dire economic situation
at an A4e review session is now rebuffed with a jokey pseudo-Prozac induced
pose of palm-fronted and waving Al Jolson hands, a big smile and 'We're
not going there', bolstered by a cheery 'We're getting close to getting
somewhere' in relation to my jobseeking. As John Harris wrote in a recent
Guardian article there may now not be '...just no such thing as society
- by implication there must be no such thing as the economy either'.
If you’re working class, don’t have any savings and are without
a job in a chiefly jobless climate – then you’re under surveillance.
Perhaps Oscar Wilde would have said 'We are all in the gutter, but some
of us are looking at the Stasi'.
The John Harris article I refer to appeared in The Guardian (online on
7.02.12, print 08.02.12) and was entitled .... shifting blame onto the
jobless under the guise of positive thinking is not only demeaning but
For more on A4e see:
Test case for the work programme
writes about her experience of Workfare starting with her
letter which appeared in the Guardian on Tuesday 7th February under “Test
case for the work programme”.
I have read your report on G4S's work programme in Hull (1 February).
I am due to be forced on to the work programme myself in a few weeks and
I have written to my local jobcentre and informed them I absolutely refuse
to be referred to G4S or its subcontractors. Until recently G4S was involved
in the morally abhorrent business of forced deportations. Last year Jimmy
Mubenga died while being deported by G4S security staff (Report, 26 January).
I have refused to allow the firm to profit from my presence on any of
its schemes. The jobseekers' allowance regulations permit claimants to
refuse to take a job which offends their ethical beliefs. Nobody has yet
tested this in relation to work programme providers, but I am preparing
to pursue a test case if the Jobcentre does not take account of my objection.
I made a Freedom of Information request (FoI) to the DWP, which resulted
in them sending me the link to the guidelines the Welfare to Work (WP)
providers have to work to. They are supposed to have their own complaints
system, but if you're not satisfied with it you can make a complaint to
the Independent Case Examiner. If he upholds the complaint he can order
them to pay you compensation. And whether he upholds it or not, he can
charge the company up to £5,000 for the cost of investigating the
complaint. I think this might be worth putting on the website for the
benefit of anybody who has issues with their WP company. As far as I know,
any compo you get does not count against your benefit, unless it makes
your savings (if you have any) above £6,000.
The link is:
Comment left by dazza on 28th February, 2012 at 18:37
great article. Keep feeign info back to nerve.
Comment left by Carol Laidlaw on 4th March, 2012 at 1:50
My jobcentre have agreed to refer me to a work prgramme provider that is not a subcontractor of G4S - no fuss, no argument. They had told me at first that their computer system chooses your work programme company at random. I can only suppose they have some discretion, or that they can override the system.
I had a letter from my work programme company a day later. It demands that I turn up at a certain day and time for an "Insight Appointment" (whatever that is) which may last two or three hours. I have written back to them to say that every organisation I have dealt with has extended the common courtesy of arranging a mutually convenient appointment when they want to see me; and it so happens that I do voluntary work on the afternoon of the day in question, so the interview cannot last longer than two hours as I will have to leave at twelve. I gave them the option of starting the appointment sooner if they want it to last three hours, or doing it on a day when I'm not doing voluntary work. I await their response.
What annoys me is that work programme providers are getting public money for doing squat. I expect to get a job through my own efforts eventually, but my work programme company will get a government fee of thousands of pounds for that result when they themselves have done little or nothing to bring it about. I am in much the same position as the long term unemployed worker who has described his own experiences here - I am well educated, have a long history of holding down a responsible job, and know well how to produce application forms and CVs and present myself at interviews. The only extra thing a work programme company is likely to be able to do for me is persent me with an actual job offer.
Comment left by Joseph Ridgwell on 4th February, 2013 at 10:20
ive been checking out english artist michael fitzgerald at saatchi online very interesting take on the whole thing