You may recall hearing of Cait Reilly, an unemployed recent graduate who worked stacking shelves in Poundland, and subsequently is challenging the policy of Mandatory Work Activity in the High Court. This predictably caused a furore of scorn in the popular press, the Daily Mail version is here.
The original concept of MWA seemed to be quite sound, in exchanged for Jobseeker’s Allowance which seems to be the PC term for unemployment benefit, the young jobless would toddle off to work for a short period to gain “fundamental work disciplines, as well as being of benefit to local communities”.
This sounds all fine and dandy to me, but when it was originally introduced it specifically did not include working in the private sector, as far as I can understand.
The action that Cait Reilly is taking in court has highlighted a rather disturbing aspect of all this, namely a rather insidious form of slave labour for companies which include Tesco, Poundland, Boots and other high street names.
So, it would seem that this scheme has been extended to make it mandatory for the lucky chosen few to work for these companies for up to six months, which costs the company nothing, but the jobseeker is being funded by the taxpayer!
I really can see why Tesco would think this would be rather a good plan, but if they need additional staff, why can’t they just employ them and pay them? They really do not have any incentive whatsoever to actually employ anyone if they have a huge pool of unpaid labour at their disposal.