If I had to bet on the outcome, I would think she will lose. It will be argued that the scheme she was put on by the Jobcentre, the "sector-based work academy", was voluntary and she knew what she was getting into. Anyway, the government can't afford to lose this one; too much hangs on it. Ironically, the Independent carries a piece about the firms (including Asda) which have signed up to new rules about interns. "The Government is sending out new guidance saying interns who do 'real jobs' must receive at least the legal minimum." Wait for the twist of logic which says that it doesn't apply if you're claiming benefits.
Thursday, 12 January 2012
A test case
A young graduate called Cait Reilly is pursuing a legal case against the government which will be of great significance to all unemployed people. Read the story in the Mail Online first. Her case is that it was against her human rights to be forced, on pain of losing her benefits, to work for two weeks at Poundland stacking shelves. This meant that she had to stop volunteering at a museum, in a role that was related to the work she wanted to do. The comments which follow reflect the lack of sympathy of Mail readers, and the thuggishness of many of them. Then read the version in the Express. They have brought in Tory MP Philip Davies who was a senior manager at Asda, having worked his way up from shelf-stacking. Unsurprisingly, he is gung-ho about the system. There is a statement which no doubt the case will challenge: "Anecdotal evidence suggests Poundland is one of the best employers at converting work experience into jobs." The lawyers "are understood to be fighting separate rules under which the long-term unemployed can be required to do up to six months’ unpaid work. Her solicitor Jim Duffy said: 'The Government has created, without Parliamentary authority, a complex array of schemes that allow job centres to force people into futile, unpaid labour for weeks or months at a time.' "