For those of you of foreign interest, this and this is the kind of matter that this rant/discussion is going to be about. Now I am all for fixing the problems of long-term unemployment in the UK (heck, I’m one of them and hate it) but I would like the problems to have the right solutions, not ones that infuriate and anger those people who are being unjustly punished for the freeloading assholes who are enjoying the ride on the same boat. So I decided that the best way to respond was to bring the matter to the MP’s relevant to the discussion. The following is a large excerpt from that e-mail:
Dear Honourable Members of Parliament,It is with severe alarm that I am forced to send this letter to those of whom it may concern. As I am part of the long-term unemployed by your everyday standards, the news about the “work-for-dole” scheme – even by it’s very title – gave me mixed feelings of fear and anger, and I am going to strongly oppose these plans even if it means being robbed of my benefits because of one very clear reason: Why are the long-term unemployed being punished for not finding work by being made to work for less than National Minimum Wage?I urge that you do not mistake this letter as one of ignorance: I am very much aware of the difficulties I face in my everyday life trying to find employment. It is a sad state of affairs that those who are forced out of the loop of employment are not so quickly or easily put back on the ladder. I long to be employed again because it gave me a challenge, it tested my abilities and my endurance and I persevered. I know that I am capable and fully able to work, and would love nothing more than to prove that once again. This is why, on one hand, I would savour the opportunity to be able to work once more in an environment that allowed that space to prove that people like me can and will work. If I was asked to do a job tomorrow and it came with further job prospects and/or training opportunities that would allow me to seek further employment, I would jump at that chance in a heartbeat. I have even taken evening courses in Sage Accounts and Payroll in the hopes of being more employable in the Blaenau Gwent area, usually paying for the courses out of the money provided to me by the Job Seekers Allowance benefits.What I do urge, however, is to press the matter that those working for their dole money are, effectively, being treated as slave labour. In effect, what the “Work for Dole” scheme is proposing, to my understanding of the matter, is employing thousands of Britain’s unemployed for what amounts to £71.70 a week. So unless the job itself is less than 12 hours a week, it won’t even reach the National Minimum Wage rates and even then, if the hours are less than that, it is not only going to be met with unpopular opinion (such as with myself) but, even working at such small hours a week, it will deprive job seekers of that time to actually do any job seeking and, if the jobs are menial jobs (litter picking, toilet cleaning, etc.) that offer no such prospects of progression into further employment (as it has been reported in the news), it is hardly going to be an initiative that would encourage employers to take an interest in those who are long-term employed – it would just further identify them and single them out as “people too lazy to get off their backsides and get a real job”, as it was once told to me when I asked before as to why it’s so hard for the unemployed to get work over other people.I do not see the matter changing employers’ opinions either, or those of whom are already employed. Listening to the Sky News report on the matter and, frankly, the Taxpayers’ Alliance director Robert Oxley has made an utter fool of himself: I would gladly tell those working 40-50 hours a week on National Minimum Wage what I think of this scheme if I end up working 20-30 hours a week solely for my JSA payments! And I would ask anyone in that alliance (and I would ask anyone in the House of Parliament) if they would be willing to work a 9am to 5pm job, 3-5 days a week, when all you are being given for it is exceptionally less than the NMW. I do not see myself as being unreasonable when I ask that, if such a scheme is going to be enforced, then at least have the decency to pay those working those hours up to the National Minimum Wage just like every other employed person in the UK. It is neither fair nor right for those who are effectively given no other choice but to work for their benefits to only be granted their JSA payment without any supplement in return for their time and investment into a job that, almost every time, would not help them progress further in their field of work, and is most certainly a cause for concern when it comes to basic human rights.In summary, while I am not entirely against the whole of the plans that the Government is proposing behind the scheme, there are enough significant flaws in the plans for me to take offence to them as-is. I do encourage those who are long-term unemployed to be placed into meaningful and beneficial work placements, but I do not expect to solely be paid £71.70 a week for a job when it does not even match the National Minimum Wage that every working person is entitled to the moment they are employed as such within the United Kingdom. Either there has to be an agreement with employers (or any others involved with this scheme) to subsidise payment over a certain working hour limit (for example, if the work is over 12 hours, employers have to contribute to meet NMW targets) or the work in itself has to be less than the hours that would make JSA pay less than NMW. While I cannot enforce further expansion of the scheme to offer other employment support to those under the plans (such as subsidised training for people on the scheme if the training improves their chances of employment), it is a suggestion that I would like to make to further warm the public to the idea of working 10 hours a week for their JSA, as it would then both give them employment experience and also training in an area they could gain jobs through.Sadly, I cannot stress enough that, under the current knowledge of the scheme and if it were to continue as-is, and if the scheme continues to feel (by it’s very presence) like a slave labour market, then I would be left with no other choice but to protest against these plans until they are sufficiently altered to make it appear less like a slave labour market and more akin to supporting those who are unwillingly unemployed. If those who are long-term unemployed truly are not capable of working for their money, they would still be discovered through this scheme as they would drop out of the compulsory employment and, for those that do drop out in this manner without very good reason, sanctions can still be applied and enforced to penalise those who are simply coasting off of the earnings of others who, I will admit, earn their money every hour of their working day. In this, the action would be justified. However, penalising those who long for employment, such as myself, by only paying JSA for what others would, at the very least, obtain NMW for, is not justifiable action.
It may very well be that they’re taking all this into consideration already and there are already plans underway for making it fair for those who are struggling to retain long-term employment and want to be employed in some capacity. Perhaps some of what I’ve iterated in the letter is already in place, and “Work for Dole” is simply one of those ‘attention-grabbing headlines™’ that those fuckers in the tabloids use to get people’s attention for matters like this (and if it is, fuck every single one of those bastards for making me write this shit at 12:30 in the fucking morning because of their bullshitting headlines). And perhaps I’m under-exaggerating the impact this would have on the general public, the employed and the unemployed in the longer running scheme of things.
Unfortunately, I can only trust anything to a certain point before I start to see the flaws and the complications and the objections that would arise from just shoehorning in a plan/scheme/wtfever that has no thought behind it other than a one-sided view of what people’s observations are of the other side. As a perfect example, the guy in the Sky News report mentioned in the e-mail, Robert Oxley, is an ignorant prick. You’re head of an organisation that pays taxes, fine, you have an opinion, but I’m certain that you would NEVER work for £71.70 a week just because the Job Center tells you to – and ESPECIALLY if that payment is less than the National Minimum Wage (which is £6.31 as of today) you would normally earn as an employed member of the community! So get your fat head out of your ass and wipe off that shit from your face – it’s not sunshine, and neither is the other side of life!
He also made me furious when he stated that anyone who had a problem with the scheme “can bring it up with the people working 40-50 hours a week and paying their taxes”. GUESS WHAT?! I DID bring it up with someone who is working those hours – he’s a goddamn MANAGER of a company – and even HE agreed that it’s a load of bullshit! And to quote him: “They need to live in the real world first then make a judgement.” COULD NOT AGREE MORE. And frankly, I dare anyone who is employed over 12 hours a week to agree to work the same hours they are now just for that pitiful amount of money per week. DO IT. YOU WON’T. Hell, I’m looking for work at this point at least 12 hours a week (2 hours a day, 6 days a week) for that kind of money, and even that’s pushing my patience to the limits!
So go ahead. Anyone. Tell me I’m taking out of my ass and that I’m wrong. Tell me that I should be working for JSA while everyone else works for NMW. Give me reasons to just bend over and let this entire “Work for Dole” system shaft me through the asshole and into my stomach. And don’t give me that asshole’s “your money will be stopped if you don’t work” bullshit – I’m long gone past being afraid of that threat if it means I’m being paid less than every other employee out there earning at least the National Minimum Wage EVERYONE in this country is entitled to the moment they are employed!