Sainsbury's and Waterstones pull out of government forced labour scheme
No one seems to like the government much any more. Their own MPs are in-fighting about the NHS and now the shops are turning against them. It seems that Sainsbury’s and Waterstones have withdrawn from the government programme that forces the jobless to work for up to six months for nothing at the risk of losing their benefits. A classy concept if ever we heard one.
The ‘scheme’ has seen scores of jobless folk working for 30 hours a week for eight weeks without being paid for it. If they back out during the eight-week period, they run the risk of losing their benefits. Other schemes that have been brought in by the coalition government can see the unemployed working unpaid for as long as six months. Lovely stuff – we’re all in it together and all that.
Sainsbury’s and Waterstones may have decided that they want no part of it, but companies such as Boots, Tesco, Asda, Primark, Argos, TK Maxx, Poundland and the Arcadia group of stores, including Top Shop and Burton, are still involved in it.
Public Interest Lawyers in Birmingham are challenging the scheme and are arguing that it contravenes the forced labour provisions in the Human Rights Act. Their man Phil Shiner said: “Some major companies are now waking up and turning their backs on compulsory unpaid labour schemes. Whilst our legal actions are against the Department of Work and Pensions, these household brands bear their own moral and social responsibility to ensure that they have nothing to do with these exploitative and ill-judged programmes.”