John McArthur makes his one-man protest outside LAMH in Motherwell [Image: The Guardian].

John McArthur makes his one-man protest outside LAMH in Motherwell [Image: The Guardian].

So you think there’s no slavery in the UK? Read this:

A man who was laid off at the end of his temporary job has been ordered by the Department for Work and Pensions to work for the same company for six months without pay, according to The Guardian.

Unemployed electronics specialist, John McArthur, 59, says he is living off 16p tins of spaghetti and has been without heating, after being sanctioned by the jobcentre when he refused to work without pay for Scottish social enterprise, LAMH Recycle in Motherwell.

McArthur says he is surviving on a monthly pension of £149 after the DWP stopped his unemployment benefit until January as punishment for refusing to go on the 26-week community work placement (CWP).

For almost three months, McArthur has spent each weekday between 7.30am and 9. 30am with a placard outside the plant reading: “Say no to slave labour”.

“They [the government] deny it’s forced labour, that you can say no, but forced doesn’t always mean physical, it can be psychological or economic. The person who is trying to survive already on subsistence level welfare has absolutely no choice in the matter … especially if they’ve got young children to look after.”

Following conversations with local councillors, North Lanarkshire council passed a motion in October strongly objecting to forced employment schemes saying it would not get involved itself. “This council will not provide jobs or placements without pay as a condition of receiving benefits unless it is truly voluntary,” the motion read.

“We do not support any mandation of unemployed people to work without pay that puts their benefits at risk.”

The motion added such measures were ineffective and could “further stigmatise and demotivate” the unemployed in their search for work.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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