Imagine carrying out the most menial work for 38 hours/week – working late nights, early mornings and long days. Now, imagine having to carry out this work for just £15.31/week from the government on top of a basic Jobseeker’s Allowance! Unfortunately, this is the reality for thousands of young people on the Steps to Work programme. Steps to Work is Stormont’s answer to the ever growing issue of youth unemployment, with just over one in five young people in the North out of work and out of training.
On Saturday – after attending a protest in support of Belfast Telegraph workers facing job losses – twenty activists attended a “Name & Shame tour” organised by Youth Fight for Jobs &Education against government “slave labour schemes”.
Over the past few months the government’s work experience scheme has come under increasing scrutiny. The scheme is nothing more than one attempting to introduce slave-labour for the young unemployed, with young people working 30 hours a week, for eight weeks, and receiving no additional pay on top of their Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), which they are threatened with losing if they do not participate.