Ian Duncan Smith is a right slave driver

One of those other stories I’d been meaning to comment on but a back log at work prevented me, was that of Cait Reilly (a geology graduate) who, along with James Wilson (an unemployed HGV driver), successfully challenged the UK government’s “welfare to work” scheme, or as I prefer to call it “the welfare chain gangs”.

In short she successfully argued that her giving up her existing time, which meant she had to stop volunteering at a local museum to stack shelves for Poundland was not only a complete waste of her time (time which she could have devoted to trying to get a proper job) but also amounted to forced labour, or as its more popularly known “slavery”.

Of course Ian Duncan Smith, the Home Secretary (now titled we assume Government chief slave driver) tried to extricate from this mess by accusing Miss Reilly of being “too proud” to stack shelves, obviously a well thought out piece of spin that his allies in the tory tabloids could get millage out of.

However all that IDS response demonstrates is that he simply doesn’t get it. The whole reason for having a minimum wage is that it represents the subsistence level needed to work at a job and support oneself. It also puts a defined value on a person’s hourly wage. If we allowed employers to set wages arbitrarily, then pretty quickly we’d end up with many people paid a pittance, so little that they couldn’t afford anything but the basics, and I’m talking bread, water and a shack in a shanty town sort of basics! While others at the other extreme would get paid ridiculously outlandish salaries for doing very little. This is exactly what happens in third world countries that lack a minimum wage.

By forcing people to work on these schemes for no wage, or if we calculate on the basis of their job seekers allowance a measly £1.80 per hour, we are effectively bypassing this principle. Naturally Poundland and other employers are likely to reduce their recruitment (not hire more staff) as its always going to be more profitable to hire someone at £1.70 an hour than £6.19. Indeed its interesting to note how shortly after Tesco’s pulled out of these schemes last year they then immediately announced tens of thousand new jobs (obviously this represents the jobs that would not have been created had they participated in this scheme).

If indeed the Daily Mail types in the Tories insist on people “working for their benefits” it would make more sense to pay them the national minimum wage and have them put in say 9 hours or so a week and leave it at that.

The bottom line is that this case merely highlights how out of touch the Tories are on the issue of unemployment. They don’t seem to understand that people who are unemployed are often fairly busy people (busy trying to find another job for one thing!) or will take up other activities like volunteering, etc, to pass the time.

Then there are also people in some professions who are forever in and out of paid work, but are always working (if you know what I mean). It was once pointed out to me that those working in the theatre or film industry (so called “below the line” workers) frequently work for free on projects to begin with in the hope it turning into a paid job later. Obviously forcing people like these to partake in government vanity schemes is either going to drive them out of work or force up the costs of such industries up to the point where they relocate overseas.

I suspect Miss Reilly’s decision to volunteer in a museum may have been motivated in part by civic duty but also out of the possibility that such volunteering eventually turned into some sort of a job.

Yes there are some “professional unemployed” people who laze about all day drinking buckie and committing crime. However, these welfare to work schemes are unlikely to work with these types as no employer wants these sorts of people on the premises (in case they come back later and rob the place! or just do a really bad job and wreck everything) and in any event they just won’t show up. But these individuals represent only a small minority and what IDS proposes is essentially a form of “collective punishment” on a mass of people whose only crime was to find themselves out of work due to the incompetence of the present government and their failed economic policies.

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7 thoughts on “Ian Duncan Smith is a right slave driver

    • um….I pay National Insurance…as I understand it the whole point of that is that it pays for my dole money if I ever loose my job (hence why its called “insurance”). Hardly counts as “being paid not to work”.

      Moving the goal posts somewhat I suspect…

      “No one forced anyone to work for no pay”

      Miss Reilly was clearly told her benefits would be cut if she didn’t work for Poundland. That sounds a lot like being “forced” to work.

      I mean what does IDS have to do, clamp her in leg irons and use a whip?

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      • There is no force here. No-one is wealding a whip. There is no slavery involved and suggesting so is an insult to slaves.

        She could choose not to sign on for assistance from the taxpayers and to live off her savings or parents. Or to get a job. Interestingly, after she had done her evil work experience she did in fact get a job. Lenin and the Bible both agree on this: ‘those who don’t work, neither should they eat’.

        National Insurance contributions are not a necessary component for entitlements to the basic JSA. It pays for the NHS and higher rate, contribution based unemployment benefits and pensions.

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      • And by the same token rape isn’t rape unless actual violence is used.

        And not everyone has wealthy parents to live off of you know. Getting jobs these days is decidedly difficult for a whole host of reasons.

        I doubt her getting a job had anything to do with stacking shelves in Poundland. I mean its not the sort of thing that stands out on you’re CV! Indeed by preventing her from going to interview’s, depleting her savings (e.g. coming into a city in rush hour on her own lolly) and reducing the number of paid jobs available in the country it probably reduced her chances of getting one.

        Also you seem to be side stepping the question of the minimum wage. The problem with this policy is that it basically by-passes this principle of a minimum wage.

        Are you prepared to work for £1.70 an hour? If so let me know as I’ve got a couple of jobs around the house for you to do!

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      • And if you want to split hair about what NI pays for, the fact is I work, I pay my taxes. I loose my job I will expect those taxes to fund my JSA while I am seeking further employment. I don’t recall anyone telling me I’d have to work for JSA that I’ve already paid for.

        If the tories feel differently then they can give me a refund of my taxes. A sort of “Irishman’s rebate” if you will!

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      • If you have worked hard and saved money, you may find yourself disqualified from receiving JSA at all if you are not poor enough. It is, indeed always had been, means tested.

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      • I’ve no problem with that. Its more the idea that those on lower to medium incomes who need that JSA, paying taxes towards it, then after being made redundant, being given a pick axe & a cotton jump suit and told to start workin for their JSA. The implication seems to be that being unemployed is some sort of crime!

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