View from the Street: Government endorses slaver… sorry, ‘work experience’!

By Andrew P Street

Oh, what a lovely class war!One of the things that the government has been very careful about discussing too much in recent times is industrial relations – specifically, how unfair they think it is that employers are still expected – indeed, obligated! – to pay staff.After all, these captains of industry already generously provided the chattering classes with work – and now they want money as well? Bunch of grasping ingrates.Fortunately relief might be in sight for our nation’s struggling bosses as the government has flagged an exciting new idea: slavery!

While addressing business leaders in Brisbane this morning Prime Minister Tony Abbott outlined the government’s new strategy under which unemployed folks can be farmed out to businesses for free for four weeks apiece without said businesses having to pay a cent – flagged as a “try before you buy” scheme. You’ll note that the things the PM is suggesting should be tried before being bought are, in fact, people.

“I think this is good for you,” he enthused to the future slavers. “It gives you the opportunity to get staff who want to have a go.”

Now, one imagines that there will be some sort of monitoring in place to ensure that businesses don’t just turn over their staff for new free labour every month. Although there may not be: after all, it’d be more of that ghastly regulation and red tape that this government is so gosh-darn worried is strangling business.

There are bigger problems, like the uncomfortable fact that all of the available evidence about Work For The Dole schemes suggests that they don’t work.

Indeed, a Melbourne University study of the WftD programme introduced by the Howard government in 1997 concluded that it actually made the people in them less likely to find a job, not least because they were too busy in the scheme to spend time looking for paid work.

The other thing is that it’s hard to see how the exciting possibility of not paying people to work is going to somehow stimulate employers to then pay people to work. If there’s enough work to justify an employer giving someone a “work experience” job then surely there’s, y’know, a job? Otherwise it’s basically babysitting.

Either way, it may do nothing to help reduce unemployment, but it’s still a great way to insult and humiliate already-stigmatised people for being out of work. Which, to be fair, is also part of the point.

Seriously, Tony. Just make being poor a fineable offence and be done with it.

Source: View from the Street: Government endorses slaver… sorry, ‘work experience’!

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