Thursday, 16 February 2012


It seems that our clever London government has found a way to improve the youth unemployment figures.

That nice Mr Grayling  came up with this little wrinkle last year, without giving it much publicity. Why so little fuss around a clever government initiative to get people back to work, you might ask. 

Well the answer is that this is actually a way of getting people to work for virtually nothing*. As the Jobcentre advertisement shows this permanent job on night shift is paid at JSA plus expenses.

And this work without pay is compulsory. If you are sent for an interview, and the company is prepared to accept you, you must work for Tesco (or any of the other companies participating in this project**) for your Job Seekers' Allowance, plus expenses, alongside other members of staff, who are being paid. If you refuse to do that, you lose your benefits for 13 weeks.

Now I, of all people, am keen to get people into work, and I'm not averse to people gaining experience and gathering new skills. Volunteering, or taking some sort of low paid job with training in new skills is a good way of beefing out a cv and making yourself more appealing to an employer.

But if Tesco has vacancies for night shift workers, or any other vacancies, why do they not advertise them normally, and pay people at the normal rate to do them?

Because, you might reply, this is aimed at people who have no experience in work and need to be given that experience before they deserve to be paid? 

No. I don't think so. Many of the night shift jobs involve filling shelves. Just how much work experience do you need to do that? And once you have gained some experience in the shopyou can easily be moved onto a customer facing job.

Sixteen years ago, when I was starting out working with unemployed people, politicians were arguing about the evils of a minimum wage and how it would ruin business in the UK, and a more experienced colleague foresaw that the one day a government would come up with a system of forcing the unemployed into working for nothing as a way of ridding themselves of this embarrassment.

Trust this government to be the one.

* JSA is not 'nothing'. In fact it is around £67 a week. I don't know exactly what night shift workers at Tesco are paid, but it is over the minimum wage, plus a premium (1.5x) after 10pm. I image that if this job is filled by someone over 21 (there is a limitation of night shift work under 18), they could only work around 7 hours before they were operating at a loss.

** Companies participating in this free labour scheme include:
Tesco, Sainsbury's, Argos, Asda, Maplin, TK Maxx,
Matalan, Primark, Holland & Barrett, Boots, McDonald's, Burger
King, Poundland and the Arcadia group which includes Miss
Sellfridge, Topshop, Burton, Dorothy Perkins. BHS, Evans, Topman,
Wallis and Outfit there's a surprise!!!


  1. tris

    Forced labour plain and simple hope the human rights court case wins on this one..
    sainburys have binned this one and me wife tells me they been doing it for a while
    'You wot'I says 'You never told me yeah i did she says..

    That lad i told you about who worked with us for 13 weeks and was then given a full time job.

    You know the one who came in drunk 4 in the morning and was sent home.
    Had a disciplinary got a final warning and came in drunk again and then left and never came back.

    Oh him! didn't realise he was on that work scheme.

  2. Ha ha... Niko.

    It's some discipline they need, says Mr Grayling. Take him out and horse whip him.

    I don't know why, if they need someone, they have to have him on trial of 13 weeks.

    I'd maybe go along with a couple of weeks if there was some special reason, or a month if it was part of a proper training programme with an agreed training plan.

    Although if these people had someone who actually knew how to interview, they should be able to assess suitability in a group and individual interview.

    Anything to lay their hands of some cheap labour.

    Someone has a "My Society" request in, asking if any member of Jobcentre or the DWP has shares in any of the participating companies.

    Some interesting facts as annotations:

    £17.5m of free labour supplied to private companies subsidised by tax payers:

    24,010 referrals to a Mandatory Work Activity placement between May 2011 to November 2011

    30 hours compulsory work per week for 4 weeks = 120 hours per referral

    120 hours x 24,010 referrals = 2,881,200 hours

    2,881,200 hours x £6.08 (minimum wage) = £17,517,696 of free labour supplied to private companies for this 3 month period

  3. There are many people wanting work and needing work. Not just for the money, but for a sense of pride and achievement, amongst other reasons.

    There are also many many lazy people who don't want a job and feel society owes them the money they get each week for doing nothing.

    A scheme to get people in to work can never be a bad thing, if properly managed. Those same lazy people would quite happily make reference to the government providing free handouts to people who enter this country illegally and how wrong this is. My view is that there is no difference and that the 'lazy unemployed' people and the illegal entrants should not assume an automatic right to free handouts of tax payers money. The illegal entrants is a separate issue but the lazy unemployed people should be expected to make an effort and contribute.

    This scheme aims to do this, if managed properly. It will also benefit those people who have worked and been unfortunate enough to have been made unemployed. They can benefit from learning a new skill, I would hope.

    I don't feel that the cost to the tax payer for free labour is a factor, if this gets people in to work.

    There are many things that need changing with the way this country is run and the way benefits are paid to people is a big one. A scheme like this is a good thing, if managed properly.

    Surely, those that disagree with this scheme, if it works, do not want to work and are amongst the lazy unemployed people who tax payers provide for.