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Fare, What's Fair?

The Workfare leviathan rumbles on, like a riderless horse. The public (that's us, the group the Tories hate the most) are shining light into this murky world, and it's about time. Next Saturday there are to be demonstrations against this iniquitous and scandalous scheme. No doubt the likes of ratface Grayling will label those participating as job snobs or SWP troublemakers and the like as he has done all week. His appearance in the introduction to a piece by Newsnight (21/2, right at the start) is telling. Watch his body language: his eyes give it all away as they look away when he finishes speaking. Even he knows full well this is all just about corporate power.

My advice to those participating (and, though I hope to god otherwise, that may well be me) is to become the least employable candidate. I don't mean cause trouble or make the workplace you are sentenced to attend dangerous, that would be stupid. But let your self worth dictate your course of action: you are being used, stand up and be counted. If they want you to work, then they should earn that right, not get it given to them by a coalition of crooks. Meanwhile, pleasingly, many big high street names are withdrawing publicly from this scheme. I say publicly, beause who knows what goes on behind the scenes.

We are fighting a thankless war here: the public, we are routeinly told by the likes of the ridiculous Policy Exchange (who use that as an excuse to advocate further tightening the thumbsrews), are not on our side. Yet those that find themselves unemployed, as evidenced by the 5Live debate, quickly discovered how pitiful their benefits income was. Meanwhile the media propaganda continues: Question Time last week featured a dismal turnout from a panel almost wholly in favour of workfare. One lone labour speaker's disapproval was met with thunderous silence from the Tunbridge Wells audience. Much the same could be said for it's sister show, Any Questions, the following day, with the exceptioon of Kenan Malik who fought desperately against not only the same kind of apathy, but a disturbing impersonation of tory policy from Sarah Tether.

What I have noticed throughout these venomously biased debates is how the undercurrent of demonisation is unchallenged. Every single person advocating this nonsense quite happily criticises the young (not that this scheme is limited to the 18-24 demographic, far from it) in the most appalling terms. Their anecdotes are replete with accusations and assumptions: they are unable to keep time, they are lazy, they sit around playing xbox all day, they can't write, they can't read, they don't want to work, blah blah blah. Such comments are always made by people that claim they are businessmen, so of course we don't dare criticise them. But when someone talks about an experience with a 'youth' who stopped turning up after their dog died, we are compelled to believe that the problem lies with the youth in question, and not at all with the businessman or his working practises/environment.

Of course there's every chance that those whining that they are sent people who are useless are the problem themselves. There's also the fact that the jobcentre will compel everyone and anyone to apply for a given job, so the businessman will have to interview people that aren't suitable amongst those that are, contributing to a skewed perception of the labour market. That of course is unfair on those people concerned - and indeed the employers - it's a waste of everyone's time, but if we don't do as we are told, we lose our benefits.

Then there's the issue of workplace health and safety, which, despite the best efforts of tossers like Richard Littlecock, is an important issue. The Tories see such trifles as mere employer safety as an inconvenience, a cost the self made man is burdened with: another of the state's shackles. But what rights do workfare slaves have with respect to workplace regulations and thus insurance - are they insured? Who covers this? Is it further expense passed onto the public purse that the big corporations can avoid? That can't be right; workfare will end up costing way more than just paying someone their benefit and letting them get on with it. But that can't be allowed to happen, in the Tory worldview. It's bad for the soul. Or some such bollocks.

As for me. Well the battle between GP and Work Psychologist goes on. It's a case of giving with one hand and taking away with the other. They are both, in their own way, happy to say they are supportive and that they want to help, but when it comes to actually providing help and support they shy away. I'm still waiting for the full report from The Psychologist, but even that won't do much because she has made it quite clear it's purpose isn't to highlight genuine issues that must be dealt with, supported, and at least respected by an employer (which in the current climate, an employer's market, won't happen). Likewise the GP is all for seeing Work Psychologists and attending Work Programmes or Work Choices but doesn't take anything I say seriously or even really listen. He'll happily slag ioff the local CMHT (and he may be right to do so for all I know), but then when I explain how CBT hasn't really helped (it requires you develop a level of awareness to step outside of your thoughts when you experience difficulty I haven't mastered) I'm told I'm not making any effort. The bottom line seems to be:
"Yes we're here to help; we want to help."
"OK, so what help will i get for non verbal learning disorder/ADD/Dyspraxia/Aspergers and/or just plain anxiety/depression?"
"Oh if you can't be bothered to help yourself and work then we can't help you."
"Right, but how?"
"You're just lazy."
It's a no win situation.


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