Cait Reilly’s victory in the Court of Appeal today has dealt a massive blow to the government’s work programme. The court ruled that being forced to work in Poundland for nothing but unemployment benefits constituted a form of forced labour. This ruling confirms what anyone with any sense could see all along. Working without being paid a wage is the very definition of slave labour. A day’s pay for a day’s work is a basic right in any supposedly democratic society.
Youth Fight for Jobs and other campaigners against workfare can now use this ruling to push the government to respond by immediately shutting down all unpaid workfare schemes. These punitive, ineffective slave labour schemes in fact amount to a massive subsidy to big business. The likes of Poundland have been allowed thousands of hours of free labour courtesy of the taxpayer. As Cait’s experience has shown, workfare doesn’t create jobs, but is a disincentive to investing in secure, socially useful jobs that pay a living wage.
Their lawyers representing Cait and Jamieson Wilson an unemployed lorry driver from Nottingham, said ”all those people who have been sanctioned by having their jobseekers’ allowance withdrawn for non-compliance with the back-to-work schemes affected will be entitled to reclaim their benefits”.