Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Workfare the Future says GMB Union

The following is reposted from the Unemployment Movement. It's something that needs wider attention because it shows the GMB leadership up as nothing less than scabs, taking the side of the bosses and the ruling class. Such a fact cannot be ignored.

Paul Kenny, unelected leader of a scab union
The GMB union with the work program provider Kennedy Scot has this week thrown its whole weight behind `Workfare`, with revelations it is promoting heavily the draconian model used by America to the coalition government.

Unions as a general rule have distanced themselves from workfare but the National Union of General and Municipal Workers (GMB) in its first unprincipled jaunt into the fray of a condemned policy has through a report called `Welfare to Work in the 21st Century` (PDF) made recommendations that the Department of Works and Pensions pilots a US welfare-to-work programme developed by America Works.

The report authored by the University of Portsmouth and accountancy firm PKF, is notable by its lack of any real content and exceptional by the fact that amongst its four authors are two criminologists; which highlights the disjunction between criminality and how the unemployed are associated. This association is not lost on the company being promoted as `American Works` primarily works with the hardest to help: offenders, disabled and long-term unemployed, who are vilified in the UK`s press.

Describing the company `America Works` as `Innovative` at the launch of its report in the House of Lords the GMB placed heavy emphasis on the company placing over 200,000 US citizen into employment, replete was the fact that this is the number since 1984. The spin doctoring of its success is not however wasted on the American press who have questioned the cost-effectiveness of this company along with its troubled history in other cities, apart from it much vaunted success in New York.

In a statement Paul Kenny, Secretary General, GMB has said “The GMB is looking at how best to support both our members who are facing redundancy as the public sector cuts bite and those suffering the scourge of long term unemployment. We welcome the idea of pilots across the country to evaluate how best to do this.”

Losing membership as a precursor to this move into workfare could well seem self-serving but ignores the body of evidence available that besides providing cheap labour and subsidizing employers, workfare takes jobs away from other workers and serves as a mechanism for keeping wages down and profits up. Not principles generally associated with unions, however if the management is trying to placate its masters it will suit the business world and the politicians just fine.

UPDATE: It seems that, to their credit, the rank-and-file of the GMB have forced a U-turn out of their leaders. Though this is welcome, it in no way exonerates the cretinous leadership for supporting the government's attacks on welfare in the first place.