“Congress reaffirms its belief…that compulsory workfare schemes are in contradiction to the notion of welfare rights.”
TUC Congress 2010 Final Agenda
The leadership of Communication Workers Union have this week issued a letter to branches stating they will support DWP ‘Work Experience’ at the Royal Mail. The scheme will begin with ten 30 hour a week workfare placements at a time in each region. Over the course of a year, each region will see 130 forced unpaid workers. There is no sign of any jobs at the end for those forced to take part in the scheme.
The questions for the union are:
- How the CWU can support a scheme which mandates people to work for less than minimum wage and penalises them by cutting off even the subsistence income of £50 Jobseekers if they do not take part?
- How can the union leadership support a scheme, which is already seeing paid workers replaced with forced workers across the UK?
All the evidence that Boycott Workfare has received demonstrates that workfare schemes such as “Work Experience” lead to overtime and staff hours being cut for those who are employed. It is worth remembering that if in future, postal workers take industrial action, workfare will provide Royal Mail management with a workforce that will be forced to cross picket lines and work since if those sent on this scheme refuse to do so they will have their JSA stopped.
The CWU has said it will review its position after an initial trial period, so this is an important time to remind the leadership of its responsibilities to its members. We ask all union members and CWU branches to contact the CWU leadership to challenge their support for this forced unpaid work scheme and to boycott it in their own workplaces.
You may want to point out to the CWU that:
- People on Work Experience are subject to sanctions if they do not take part. This is forced labour.
- The Guardian have helped to expose that these schemes do not benefit young people.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau lists Work Experience as a compulsory scheme.