Tagged: unpaid labour

David Cameron sued by unemployed man over freedom of speech

An unemployed  man is suing Prime Minister David Cameron for £1 million in a battle over freedom of speech.

Jobseeker Harvey Stone claims he was unlawfully prosecuted for sending the government an email protesting against their treatment of the unemployed.

The father of one, of  Holten-le-Clay, Lincolnshire, says his struggle to find a job has been made infinitely harder after he sent a “protest email” to the government over George Osbourne‘s “Help to Work” scheme, and was charged with a criminal offence as a result.

Mr Stone, who is married with a 16-month old daughter, says he was charged with an offence under the Malicious Communications Act 1988, after sending the email, protesting against the Chancellor’s controversial plans to make the unemployed perform unpaid labour.

The family man, who says the Tory leader has “allowed his government to discriminate against and criminalize the unemployed“, through the much-criticised policy, claims his human right to freedom of expression has been violated.

He has now launched a High Court bid for £1 million in damages, claiming his reputation and future chances of gaining employment are in tatters as a result of the furore.

In a writ lodged at London’s High Court, Mr Stone’s sets out his case, saying:

Prime Minister David Cameron has allowed his government to pursue a course of action designed to discriminate against and criminalize the unemployed, breaching the Human Rights Act 1998 Article 4, the prohibition of slavery and forced labour.

“This prompted a protest email from myself, for which I was arrested and charged under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.”

Mr Stone claimed that the arrest and charge breached his human right to free speech, and caused loss and damage to himself and his struggling family.

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. The negligent actions of David Cameron’s government could lead to a criminal record for myself making it hard to find a job,” he said.

Mr Stone is claiming £500,000 in lost future earnings and a further £500,000 for damage to his reputation, “and the stress his government has caused to myself and my family, as I try to support my wife and my 16-month old daughter.”

Emphasizing the gulf in status between himself and the Prime Minister, Mr Stone also adds in the writ: “I have no money…I am unemployed, do not own property or anything of financial value and have to support my wife and daughter on benefits.”

He concludes: “The issues raised are of general public importance. Only too often the litigant in person is regarded as a problem for judges and for the court system, rather than the person for whom the civil justice system exists.”

Mr Cameron’s lawyers have acknowledged receipt of the claim against him but his defence to the action was not available from the court. Mr Stone’s case has yet to be tested in evidence before a judge.

Source –  Grimsby Telegraph,  11 July  2014

Local government UK councils benefit from half a million hours of unpaid labour

Scores of UK councils have benefited from more than half a million hours of unpaid labour through government back-to-work schemes, a series of freedom of information requests has found.

The FOI requests filed by the group Boycott Workfare, which campaigns against workfare schemes, found 62% of the 271 councils that responded had used unpaid workers on government schemes during the past two years.

Boycott Workfare, which says unpaid schemes such as work experience and mandatory work activity (MWA) exploit tens of thousands of unemployed people, found Newport council had used 112 people, mainly in its street cleaning and rubbish collection department for about four weeks at a time.

Scarborough council has used 120 people through the MWA scheme since 2011. Seventy one people completed the placements, all in the parks department.

Bexley borough council in London has taken more than 100 unpaid placements, including 71 through the mayor of London’s unpaid work scheme, which is funded by the European social fund. One person was offered full-time employment (!)  and 15 an apprenticeship.

The council said most of these placements were in library services, where 35 paid jobs were lost after services were merged with neighbouring Bromley in 2012.

Of the reported 1,929 placements, only one in 14 led to jobs according to Boycott Workfare, though this figure did not include apprenticeship placements.

Northumberland county council said it had put 44 people into unpaid work in its council services during the past two years.

“These work placements are intended to be positive experiences, not punitive and must be of community value and not replace anyone’s job,” the council said.

Boycott Workfare said half of council placements were part of the voluntary work experience scheme. But nearly 300 placements were on MWA, where the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can compel people to work without pay for a month or have their benefit cut for up to three years.

A further 300 people were sent to work for councils through the Work Programme, with placements lasting up to 26 weeks.

Since February 2012 the DWP has resisted a series of rulings from the information commissioner that it should make public the locations of people sent on government employment schemes, saying the data was commercially sensitive and a public outcry could damage the schemes’ operation. A high court hearing on the matter is expected to take place in the spring.

“data was commercially sensitive and a public outcry could damage the schemes’ operation.” But aren’t we always being told that if we’ve done nothing wrong we have nothing to fear ?  What are they scared of ?

Boycott Workfare said it was “disturbing to find so many councils putting local people at risk of destitution by using schemes that threaten people with up to three years’ benefit stoppages.

“Workfare doesn’t help people find work and councils aren’t offering people jobs at the end of their placement. Instead local authorities are clearly using workfare in an attempt to plug the gaps left by government cuts to public services.”

The group said a six-month employment scheme due to start this year would extend this trend of unpaid work in councils and charities.

“Unless it is stopped, it will mean both more devastating welfare sanctions and fewer paid jobs for everyone,” it said.

The DWP said: “Most of these placements are undertaken voluntarily and work experience is successful in helping people off benefits and into work.

“Mandatory placements give jobseekers in need of more help the vital workplace skills and experience – especially if they’ve never worked before – to find work.”

“Claimants are expected to complete placements which are of benefit to the community, including helping charities. It is only right that people claiming jobseeker’s allowance take part in programmes to improve their skills.”

> Fine – then if it’s work at least pay them the minimum wage. Even New Labour’s New Deal fiasco used to pay you 15 quid a week extra.

Forcing people to work for nothing under threat of sanctions for not complying = slavery.

And talking of Labour, New or present, I dont hear any protests coming from that direction. Of course, it seems most likely that they, should they win the next election, will just continue along the same course as the present government – in the same way that the Tories are using measures brought in by New Labour, like sanctions, to such devastating effect.

Different arseholes, same old shit.

Source – Guardian, 03 Jan 2014