DWP orders man to work without pay for company that let him go – Guardian

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.

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18 thoughts on “DWP orders man to work without pay for company that let him go – Guardian

  1. Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7)

    With respect to workfare and the plight of John McArthur, it is apparent that the United Kingdom is violating the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Article 6 of the Covenant recognizes the right to work, defined as the opportunity of everyone to gain their living by freely chosen or accepted work. Parties are required to take “appropriate steps” to safeguard this right, including technical and vocational training and economic policies aimed at steady economic development and ultimately full employment. The right implies parties must guarantee equal access to employment and protect workers from being unfairly deprived of employment. They must prevent discrimination in the workplace and ensure access for the disadvantaged. THE FACT THAT WORK MUST BE FREELY CHOSEN OR ACCEPTED MEANS PARTIES MUST PROHIBIT FORCED OR CHILD LABOR. [emphasis mine]

    The work referred to in Article 6 must be decent work. This is effectively defined by Article 7 of the Covenant, which recognizes the right of everyone to “just and favourable” working conditions. These are in turn defined as fair wages with equal pay for equal work, sufficient to provide a decent living for workers and their dependents; safe working conditions; equal opportunity in the workplace; and sufficient rest and leisure, including limited working hours and regular, paid holidays.

    I recently asked the UN to open an investigation into Britain’s benefit-sanctioning regime; (see http://twishort.com/2cwgc), and I will contact the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to request a similar inquiry into the United Kingdom’s workfare schemes.

    I believe that these schemes are in violation of Article 6, and that they infringe on political and economic freedoms of the individual.

    On December 9, 2012 I wrote a letter to Sir Mark Lyall Grant, UK Ambassador to the UN, protesting Britain’s mandatory work programme for sick and disabled persons. I received a response from both the Ambassador and Mark Hoben, a former Minister of State for Employment.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Hasn’t the United Nations suspended any investigations into the UK’s behaviour with regard to Department for Work and Pensions activities until after the general election of 2015, though?
      I found that a particularly hard pill to swallow.

    2. joanna may

      With all due respect to you! The UN are completely impotent!!! They have no way of forcing this lot of highly paid criminals to stop!!
      Who says crime doesn’t pay!!!!

  2. Thomas M

    What’s to stop bosses just laying off all their workers and then getting them back as workfare slaves?

  3. martyn500

    The fewer organisations agree to accept the offer, the sooner it will end. I have read in a DWP booklet, issued to staff in April, that there was a shortage of placements then.

  4. victedy

    If John McArthur is an electronics specialist how can workfare aid him back into work? He already has the experience, all he needs is paid labour.

  5. amnesiaclinic

    Totally shocking. I hope everyone boycotts this “charity” for good. Also that those around him help him out especially if he has young children to support.
    The UN is toothless – just look how America and Israel and now the UK just totally ignore them.
    Good luck to him. Someone needs to challenge this in the courts. We could all support that.

  6. Joy Morby

    How much lower can this tory joke of a coalition take this country. I seem to be in a perpetual state of anger because of them

  7. Thomas

    He could sue as a litigant in person, but he’d probably mess things up and annoy the judge or lose on a technical point of law.

  8. pricklypilgrim

    I can’t share my thoughts Mike, because I don’t swear in public, and I can’t refer to this government without using the strongest, nastiest words in my vocabulary…

Comments are closed.