Marks and Spencers’ Leading Ladies. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Dear “Leading Ladies” (Annie Lennox, Emma Thompson, Rita Ora, Rachel Khoo, Lulu Kennedy, Baroness Lawrence, Alek Wek & Roma Agrawal),
Let me ask you, is your contract with Marks and Spencer on Workfare conditions? Or are you getting paid? Are M&S actually able to pay you because they are getting free labour? Did you know that Workfare is NOT voluntary? Unless you deem loss of any income at all and your family starving to death as a valid alternative. Did you know that Workfare is indefinite for sick and disabled people who the DWP deem “may” be fit for work in under a year (“may” be fit by then but are being sent on Workfare schemes anyway). Would YOU accept a position paying under £2 per hour (for 35 hrs/week, with all the extra expenses employment brings & also complying with DWP rules to look for paid employment for another 35 hours per week)?

Dear Marks & Spencer, How many paid, entry-level, positions have you made “redundant” because you’re filling them with unpaid “slave” labour via the Workfare scheme and others like it? Voluntary “work experience” in an appropriate employment sector for a couple of weeks is one thing, but this? This is so close to slave labour you could barely get a fag paper between them. Taxpayers’ money going to fund corporate wages.

Leading Ladies, you should be ashamed of yourselves for promoting a corporation that participates in this scheme.

Marks & Spencer, I refuse to shop with you until you stop, completely and utterly falling in with these scheme to exploit the unemployed, sick and disabled.

When we have half a million vacancies and 2.5 million unemployed (and that’s after the DWP faff with the figures and hide those on sanctions and Workfare schemes from the stats) surely it would make more sense to actually employ people than to throw more onto the job queue. If you want to “do the right thing” and encourage unemployed into work, why not offer more traineeships at (or preferably above) minimum wage with a guaranteed job at the end if certain tests/assessments are acceptable. If you can take on free labour you have the capacity to take on paid.

This goes for all large corporations who are benefiting from public funds instead of paying their staff.


Back to Work Schemes & Myths About Disabled People

I wrote this in response to someone on a comment thread who said this about disabled people being forced onto the government’s Back To Work schemes:

Most though have not paid any NI or tax such as this Girl

The “Girl” he refers to is Cait Reilly who recently succeeded at the Court of Appeal in claiming that forcing her to work for “free” at Poundland was not legal.

This is my reply:

( I will assume by “tax” that you mean “income tax”, as everyone who pays for anything in this country is paying tax on every single transaction beyond the basic foodstuffs.)

You assume that she hasn’t ever had a job? Most youngsters that I know at uni have part-time/casual jobs. They have to or they can’t survive (unless they come from rich families). The so called “maintenance loan” doesn’t even cover basic housing expenses, let alone the cost of food, transport & most importantly, textbooks etc. Chances are many young graduates (again, unless from well off families) have been paying income tax & NI since they first left secondary school.

The girl was already working for nothing, in an area where she would learn more of use, benefit her CV and give her a better chance of finding a job. But that’s not good enough for this government who want to supply free labour to business & so force down wages even further for their big business backers & puppetmasters.

You’ve also assumed that anyone who is disabled or chronically & permanently ill has been so from birth. That they never had a time when they were able-bodied or well enough to work. Never a time when they were “just the same” as everyone else. People seem to do this a lot, assume that someone with a disability or illness, who has to claim benefits in order to survive, has always been unemployable. Is it perhaps because recognising otherwise might make people realise that it could happen to them at any second? That it takes only one split second of inattention to lead to a disabling accident? That they could have just that one “perfectly standard” test at the doctor’s that comes back to tell them that they have an incurable, disabling illness that will only get worse over time?

And even if they manage to survive all of those… they’ll be old & infirm one day. They’ll wonder then why there’s no-one to speak up for them & their needs.

We’ll call them the Temporarily Able-Bodied or The Not Yet Disabled.