Revealed: other companies benefit from ‘work experience’


by Sunny Hundal    
8:58 pm - February 19th 2012

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Late last week it was revealed that Tesco had advertised permanent jobs that paid nothing other than ‘JSA + expenses’.

Tesco later said the job ad was a ‘mistake’ and claims it will lobby the government to ensure the scheme is not mandatory.

But web searches by others have found that Tesco isn’t the only company paying nothing for ‘permanent’ jobs.

And, in fact, Tesco has posted other jobs ads that pay nothing.

And here’s another Job ad by Tesco only paying travel expenses for a permanent job.

.

Here’s an ad by SUPERDRUG with identical conditions to the original Tesco ad.

.

And one by Asda which only pays Travel + Childcare expenses.

.

Yesterday, Matalan pulled out of the government’s slave labour workfare scheme, as did the charity Scope.

Pressure is now being put on other companies to follow suit.

(links via @MichaelH14, @JobHitsUS and others)

Why is such Workfare by companies such as Tesco a bad idea? Here are five simple reasons:
1) The scheme is not voluntary
2) Most of the work being advertised doesn’t require experience
3) The companies advertising make huge profits and are easily able to pay
4) Funded by taxpayers – we’re paying JSA instead of companies paying a proper wage
5) It is being used enmasse, and the numbers are growing fast. From 170 in May 2011, the numbers of people being placed through this mandatory work scheme was at 8,100 in November 2011 alone.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Workfare needs to be gone, as soon as possible.

Or failing that they need to tell me how I can hook my house up with a full domestic staff. Why should Tesco get the breaks?

Unemployment could be reduced by three if these jobs were given to unemployed folk. If ever we had a skill shortage in this Country then ‘replenishment’ (i.e. shelf stackers) is not an area that springs to mind, does it?

Nobody in the Government is that much a fucking idiot, surely to fuck? We can all see what is happening here, honest work and manual labour has been devalued to the point where these jobs will be done with conscripted labour.

Sunny, why is this NOT a headliner? a sidebar is not good enough.

First the banks are shored up with billions of tax payers money that they then use to keep the bonus culture going. Now they’re adding to the profits of billion profit chains. It is modern day slavery. Those who support these measures are not against what they see as ‘state handouts’ – they just want the handouts for themselves. In years to come our children will look back at this time with even graver misgivings – and hindsight will shame those who have made it happen.

Nationalise them all. You can’t be on the left and disagree with that.

5. Suburban Tory

Sunny

Why does The Guardian offer unpaid Work Experience.

Time to unleash the twitter mob?

@Suburban Tory : Because stacking shelves at Tesco and Superdrug is the same as a graduate / school-leaver being in a national newsroom.

@5 Are they part of the workfare scheme?

The Tories go on about Australia and how they control immigration. What is never reported in the Australian work councils which set the rate for virtually every job.

It is illegal to pay someone below these rates and implemented would make most of these workfare schemes illegal.

The councils rates are partially decided on a livable wage. This means that new arrivals cannot undercut the local wage market by say living 4 to a room.

A decent wage for a job means that every job would be quickly be picked up.

Most of the job vacancies advertised at job centres that hang around are usually temp, minimum wage with awkward hours – eg pub work where you have to work a couple of unpaid hours in the evening to clean up and cannot afford a taxi to take you home. Of course on that rate of pay you cannot afford a car.

I have a confession: I was a slave employer who didn’t pay wages. Twice in fact. I won’t do it again though.

And here are some pictures of people on slave wage workfare schemes. They are truly shocking.

8

Our system of tax-credits, in effect, allows people with children to undercut those without by enabling them to take poorly paid jobs. This then encourages employers to underpay because they know that they can fill the jobs with people who can claim said tax credits.
A system such as you describe would ensure that employers pay at least the minimum market rate for each job.

11. Suburban Tory

Belinda

Your right. Working at Tescos to make sure people have food on their table is far less important than working for The Guardian.

Snob.

Nice try Suburban Tory – but you only expose how batshit Tories are.

The Guardian WE scheme is voluntary and only for two weeks, in line with HMRC best practice. This scheme isn’t voluntary, is in some cases ‘permanent’ and doesn’t offer you work where experience is very hard to get. do you really need experience stacking shelves? God, you’re a tool aren’t you?

13. Suburban Tory

No need to be abusive Hundal.

I worked in a jobcentre for 25 years helping the unemployed find work. What have you done?

Sector Based Work Acadamies are voluntary to join.
The work experience is not permanent – the maximum is six weeks.
If you have never had a job any work experience is valuable.

We can’t all live and work in a cosy middle class media bubble. Get a proper job in the real world and see how long you last.

14. Suburban Tory

Flexible New Deal introduced by Labour in 2009:

“Providers (such as Action 4 Employment) have the power to sanction jobseekers who do not comply with the Action Plan or other requirements: they can use mandatory work experience to enforce cooperation on the Plan. In addition, every jobseeker will be required to undertake at least four weeks of work experience by the time they finish Stage 4.”

15. Suburban Tory

Do you really need experience stacking shelves?

Wow, you really look down on us common people don’t you. Am I take it that unless the work experience involves working at The Guardian or the BBC it is somehow pointless?

You really are an odious little snob.

@10: “A system such as you describe would ensure that employers pay at least the minimum market rate for each job.”

That could be effectively achieved with a national stautory incomes policy and wage boards – and then I recall listening to what Arfur Scargill used to say about those statutory limits on wages of the Heath and Wilson governments in the 1970s.

It’s strange how these notions go round in cycles.

I worked in a jobcentre for 25 years helping the unemployed find work. What have you done?

Is this another way for you to compare penis sizes?

Wow, you really look down on us common people don’t you.

No – I’m the one who thinks people should be paid for jobs, while you’re the one trying to justify slave labour.

@ Sunny

It looks more like you’d rather people be paid for doing nothing.

What is the problem with jobseekers having to contribute something to get their benefits?

@18 When that ‘contribute’ something is being used by private employers to replace jobs.

1) The scheme is not voluntary —> Why should benefits be something for nothing? Other very left-leaning countries do this sort of thing all the time.

2) Most of the work being advertised doesn’t require experience —> this is a perfect illustration Sunny of how batshitly insulated you are to the real world I think, and also displays a unique amount of snobbery about what is actually involved in stacking shelves (something I happily did for 6 years).

3) The companies advertising make huge profits and are easily able to pay —> Oh dear, displaying you’re lack of knowledge or understanding of business now. Just because Tesco as a whole makes massive profits you’d have to pretty speshul to think that meant the big Daddy business was micromanaging recruitment at the store level. Headcount is based upon the OpEx of the store and operated at that level, and you;d be surprised what actual small profits are made in each indivudal operating unit.

4) Funded by taxpayers – we’re paying JSA instead of companies paying a proper wage –> We’re also paying JSA so that people can sit on their arse doing bugger all.

5) It is being used enmasse, and the numbers are growing fast. From 170 in May 2011, the numbers of people being placed through this mandatory work scheme was at 8,100 in November 2011 alone. —> That’s a positive, not a negative. It means that people are doing something for something as EdM said, not something for nothing.

@ suburban tory, so you are a slaver’s patsy – it is a criminal offence to aid & abet slavery in this country, why are you justyfying it?
i had two spells of unemployment, and both times someone like you tried to push me into slavery, the first time was new labour’s mussolini inspired, third way new deal (i was naive about it’s true nature) where i had a placement in a printer/design company.

the managing director of that company gave me a severe bollocking for learning the software through practicing with it, constantly put me down in group bullying sessions by saying stuff like “i dont pay your wage, the government does” in front of everybody, etc so all he wanted was an unpaid skivvy. At the end of the placement i was thrown back onto the scrapheap, & another new dealer put in (he had the same treatment)

2 years later that shining example of modern business practice drove that company into bankrupsy! making 24 people unemployed in the process…

Wow. People actually exist who think workfare is a good idea. Now I have literally seen everything.

What kind of messed up communist do you have to be to think that people should work for free?

This is a capitalist country. Capitalism means you want it you pay for it. No company has any right to employ anybody for free. And Workfare is horrific, but I’d extend that to include any unpaid work experience, because all those work experience jobs in media and politics do is serve to entrench the privilege of people who don’t need to get paid to work.

I don’t mind if the government wants to subsidise jobs, that’d be great, to help companies to get hiring. But forcing a person to work for free on pain of total destitution is literally barbaric.

@ Monglor

What kind of messed up country do you have to live in to think that it acceptable for people to get paid to do nothing?

“Most of the work being advertised doesn’t require experience”

Quite. The aim is for these “jobs” to provide experience. Of getting up, going to work, turning up clean and sober, on time and regularly.

“A system such as you describe would ensure that employers pay at least the minimum market rate for each job.”

But Steve, the minimum market rate for some jobs is below what we think is just or righteous that people should have to try and live on. Hell, I’m a vile neo-liberal and even I agree with that point.

If you actually want to move to a pure market based system then good luck to you. No HB, no child credits, tax credits, minimum wages, dole or anything at all like that. People get only the market clearing wage for whatever value their labour has.

I assure you that you really, really, wouldn’t like the outcome.

Indeed, nor would I. I would be happy with such a system if we had a citizen’s basic income underlying it but I really wouldn’t be happy with an entirely unmediated labour market and I’m amazed that you’re suggesting it.

@23 Well you have a choice to make, do you want the unemployed to be made to do work, any work, or do you want work to pay? Because if you push the former too hard, it won’t be long till skilled employment is being done for benefits.

24
The thing is, tax-credits are comparatively new, so how did job markets work without them? Actually that was a rhetorical question, the fact was a product/service was priced-up and if the production costs were the same/more, then that product/service was not brought to the market, unless it acted as a loss-leader.
Now, it doen’t matter when we can get the tax-payer to subsidize part of the production costs, not only that, it interferes with your beloved ‘free-market’ theory, Adam Smith would spin in his grave.
The problem with neo-liberalism is that it’s quite a vague theory, governments can intervene but only in certain circumstances, and that appears to be when it only benefits producers.
As for tax-credits, they may enable people to live but they have the effect of precluding young people from the employment market, it’s no coincidence that the largest percentage of unemployed are people between the ages of 16 and 25 (the demographic which is unlikely to have children) Even neo-liberals would be pushed to justify discrimination on the basis of age and parental status.
As far as receiving a living wage, my view is that the minimum wage is far too low, if all employers had to pay a larger sum to all. it would not interfere with the competative aspect and neither would it give any potential employee an advantage. As all of our tax bills would be considerably lower, there would be more spending power for producers and consumers.

6 – it’s being extended to people in the WRAG group of ESA. These are not people who need shelf stacking experience, they have more “real life” experience I would imagine than most of us will ever have. They just need support while sick.

People choose to do internships at the Guardian even when there’s no recession.

No one does unpaid internships stacking a shelf at Tesco. Tesco don’t offer unpaid internships. These people being forced to do it on threat of having their benefits stopped.

Pretending that it is “job snobbery” to suggest people should be paid for doing work which profits their employer is just ridiculous.

Everyone’s job gives them work experience, and may help them further their career, but it’s also still work, which profits your employer, and you expect to be paid for it.

“What kind of messed up country do you have to live in to think that it acceptable for people to get paid to do nothing?”

A civilised social democracy.

Tim W @

Quite. The aim is for these “jobs” to provide experience. Of getting up, going to work, turning up clean and sober, on time and regularly.

But Tim, these are pretty much given, you will learn these skills from day one of a real job not some kind of scheme.

You could achieve the exact same level of skill sets by hiring porta-cabins, tables and desks and buying crayons and colouring books.

What kind of fuckwit employer would look at what is clearly a government scheme, ‘learning’ valueless skills and assumes that person has acquired other skills? The Government is paying Tesco a hundred quid to take these people. There is no incentive to provide any real skills.

“But Tim, these are pretty much given, you will learn these skills from day one of a real job not some kind of scheme.

You could achieve the exact same level of skill sets by hiring porta-cabins, tables and desks and buying crayons and colouring books.”

Indeed, you might even learn them in school.

But the basic fact of the matter is that some people do not have these skills. Thus these skills need to be inculcated in some manner…..given that the Glorious State Education System doesn’t seem to be doing so.

Further, as Richard Layard has spent decades pointing out, these very skills decline the longer unemployment goes on.

Tim @ 32

Further, as Richard Layard has spent decades pointing out, these very skills decline the longer unemployment goes on.

I agree with you and Layard here and that is the real issue. These are the people we should getting to grips with. People who are in the habit of working but are on the turn.

The problem that the Government have is there are too many people who are unemployable trying to compete with people who are employable. Let us be honest about it most of the really long term unemployed and long term sick will never work again, certainly never work in the private sector again. All the huffing and puffing and ‘its an outrage’ etc is not changing the fact that in the current economic climate, no one will employ someone with a serious illness, a huge gap in a CV (even if it padded out with a workfare placement) when there are say, half a million people out there who are capable of getting back into work fairly quickly.

That is a harsh, brutal reality and it doesn’t really matter if they ‘want’ to work or not, because if there is not a job for them or no one will employ them then it does not matter one way or another. Giving Tesco a hundred quid to take on an arthritic fifty nine year old ex painter who has been unemployed since 1999 is little more than a huge waste of money.

The only thing that will make most of these people employable is a huge labour shortage.

33. Chaise Guevara

@ 9 nonny mouse

“And here are some pictures of people on slave wage workfare schemes. They are truly shocking.”

You found some pictures of people smiling???? Listen everyone, all our problems are over! Cancel politics! Philanthropists, put your money away! A guy on workfare smiled, it’ll all be well!

Tim W @ 31

Further, as Richard Layard has spent decades pointing out, these very skills decline the longer unemployment goes on.

Yes and people the government should be concentrating getting back into work are those on the turn. People who have recently lost their jobs and are losing contact with the labour market. Not schemes or useless taxpayer funded blackholes, but real, wage paying work.

The problem for the government is that there are too many people who have been long term unemployed to the extent that no employer would ever, realistically employ them. The harsh brutal reality is that for hundreds of thousands of people, there is simply no prospect of them working in the private sector again in this current economic climate. All the huffing and puffing and ‘that’s an outrage’ is not going to make unemployable people employable, no schemes will improve that either. Spending taxpayer’s money on sending an arthritic fifty five year old ex painter who was made redundant eight years ago to stack shelves is a fucking nonsense, we should be spending that money getting a forty year old back into real, profitable (for all parties) employment.

“The problem for the government is that there are too many people who have been long term unemployed to the extent that no employer would ever, realistically employ them. The harsh brutal reality is that for hundreds of thousands of people, there is simply no prospect of them working in the private sector again in this current economic climate.”

Err, yes, this is the point that Layard was making.

So, what you need to do is get these people entirely lost to the labour market back, at the very least, on the edges of it. Get them into some sort of work, any sort of work, even if it’s only for a few weeks.

That’s exactly his point and the driving motivation for all of these srots of schemes.

Those who have only been unemployed for a short time perhaps they do indeed need something done for them. But that’s an entirely different problem. It’s simply not the one that these sorts of workfare schemes are trying to address.

The workfare schemes really are trying to address people who have been out of work so long they’ve entiurely lost contat with the working world. That’s the point of them, that’s what they’re there for.

They may or may not be a good idea: but please try to critique them from what it is that they’re trying to do.

I hate to say it, but I agree with the ‘detractors’ on this one. I don’t see much wrong with this.

Tesco are getting free labour that should be put on the job market – yes, that’s wrong. If they need the work done and they’re making money, they should employ people as normal.

But I see nothing wrong with forcing people on JSA to work; after all, they should have nothing else to do with their time except looking for work (and here it is, being given to them.)

I’m not actually sure what people’s objections are. It’s not “slave labour” – they’re being paid. They have the option to decline the work and lose their money like any other employee.

@36 Well with that pro-active attitude, how many years do you think it’ll be before you’re doing your job for jobseekers allowance, plus expenses?

Tim w @ 35

Get them into some sort of work, any sort of work, even if it’s only for a few weeks.

But Tim, you do not solve that by workfare, do you? You need a job to do that. No employer is going to equate ‘experience’ gained from a government scheme with the experience that you gain from having a real job.

All we are going to get with this is a lump of unemployable people to a lump of unemployable people with something to put on a CV. With additional costs to the taxpayers. No one with an obviously padded CV is likely to find themselves a job when they are competing with dozens of people who are either in work, or recently been made redundant.

Given that the type of jobs that employ the typical ‘skills’ these people are going to learn are already over subscribed by a factor of ten in most cases, it is difficult to see what can be gained in training shelf stackers using public money.

Surely it would make more sense to train people in jobs that significant skill shortages exist, rather than train people where there are dozens of people available for every job and that the private sector is training thousands of people every year anyway?

The blunt reality is you will either have to increase employment or reduce the supply of labour to improve the job prospects of many of these people.

39. Chaise Guevara

@ 36 DaveW

“But I see nothing wrong with forcing people on JSA to work; after all, they should have nothing else to do with their time except looking for work (and here it is, being given to them.)”

How does £2 an hour sound to you?

@ Dave W, or how about your fired – unscrupulous employers would do that for no real reason, after all you are a cost to the company, not an asset (that is how they look at you) – then for JSA you have to do the job you do now, for THE SAME EMPLOYER!

Would you be quite so complacent when you personally are on the receiving end?

In metastable systems like Capitalism, that is the one of the many routes to bubbles, unsustainable debt, recessions, and eventually a retreat into feudalism. If your future by some miracle isn’t outright slavery, how about indebtured serfdom?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Kath Caldwell

    In May last year 170 ppl went through govt Workfare scheme. This jumped to 8,100 for Nov. 2011 alone http://t.co/2OCfrWCi

  2. OrchidsGallery-Art

    #UK : Revealed: other companies benefit from ‘work experience ’ http://t.co/NgpE1TG6

  3. OrchidsGallery-Art

    #UK : Revealed: other companies benefit from ‘work experience ’ http://t.co/NgpE1TG6

  4. ste

    Revealed: The other companies that also exploit workers for free, permanent 'work experience' http://t.co/2OCfrWCi

  5. rfktruth

    Revealed: other companies benefit from ‘work experience’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/fY9wceuO via @libcon

  6. ian richardson

    Revealed: other companies benefit from ‘work experience’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/IfmFA4VV via @libcon

  7. Eva Felthad

    RT @sunny_hundal: Revealed: The other companies that also exploit workers for free, permanent 'work experience' http://t.co/koT2rz4B

  8. Martell Thornton

    Revealed: other companies benefit from 'work experience' | Liberal …: Tesco later said the job ad was a 'mista… http://t.co/sXEAQsVC

  9. Notenuffluv

    inc 5 reasons to end #workfare SIMPLES @rfktruth: Revealed: other companies benefit from ‘work experience’ http://t.co/EuMllrpR via @libcon”

  10. Max Dunbar

    @libcon has more #workfare stuff including adverts that pay 'N/A' or 'travel/childcare expenses' http://t.co/grhuYlU8

  11. sunny hundal

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  12. CampbellX

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  13. Alec Speight

    Revealed: other companies benefit from ‘work experience’ | Liberal Conspiracy – http://t.co/T6STiOdw

  14. Politicus Comedicus

    "@sunny_hundal: Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/YzcZVxSd >Nice.

  15. Rattus

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  16. Joe Gammie

    RT @sunny_hundal: Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/NmKhcc2R (from last night)

  17. Martin Maclean

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  18. TeresaMary

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  19. Green Steve

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  20. McGinOxford

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  21. Warren Peace

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  22. Dave W

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  23. Safwaan

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  24. BevR

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  25. Skipton & Ripon CLP

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/hiJQu3xm

  26. mary murphy

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  27. Judith Flanders

    Good to have a list, thx! RT @sunny_hundal Revealed: companies that benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/zcOvKeVZ

  28. Peter Underwood

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  29. Cornish Meads

    Revealed: other companies benefit from ‘work experience’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/1mFdYFub via @libcon

  30. TheCreativeCrip

    In May last year 170 ppl went through govt Workfare scheme. This jumped to 8,100 for Nov. 2011 alone http://t.co/2OCfrWCi

  31. Cornish Meads

    Could these all be Job Centreplus IT errors? http://t.co/1mFdYFub

  32. Patrick Chalmers

    Companies that benefit from mandatory ‘work experience’ staff. Just who are the scroungers here? http://t.co/1AmMr6zU via @libcon

  33. John COYB Syme

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  34. Janet Graham

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  35. Amber

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  36. BevR

    Revealed: other companies benefit from ‘work experience’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/0djnMg0t via @libcon

  37. Justin Adams

    Revealed: The other companies that also exploit workers for free, permanent 'work experience' http://t.co/2OCfrWCi

  38. Justin Adams

    Revealed: The other companies that also exploit workers for free, permanent 'work experience' http://t.co/2OCfrWCi

  39. Nick H.

    Revealed: other companies that also benefit from free, permanent ‘work experience’ http://t.co/2OCfrWCi (from last night)

  40. Emz

    “@nbcornish: Could these all be Job Centreplus IT errors? http://t.co/WckXnlHP” #DoNotBlameIT

  41. Pamela Heywood

    Revealed: other companies benefit from ‘work experience’ http://t.co/ohQ5M9YU

  42. Workfare: London Assembly Member defends the indefensible

    [...] of the most enthusiastic corporate adopters of the scheme have already been posting job ads for permanent unpaid positions, and over 24,000 people have already been blackmailed in this way. Clearly, after more than a few [...]

  43. Mango Saul

    Revealed: The other companies that also exploit workers for free, permanent 'work experience' http://t.co/2OCfrWCi

  44. Arun Mehta

    Revealed: other companies benefit from so-called 'work experience’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/1CB7Q0Ip via @libcon

  45. Tesco abandon scheme following slave labour claims « Aim High, There Is Plenty Of Room

    [...] Revealed: other companies benefit from ‘work experience’ (liberalconspiracy.org) Share this:PrintEmailTwitterFacebookLinkedInMoreDiggTumblrStumbleUponRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]





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