Ireland’s government has ignored the vast evidence of the welfare to work industry’s failure in the UK, and instead are on a path to repeat the same mistakes. We know, for example, that a harsher system of sanctions creates destitution and hunger. We know that forced, unpaid work placements lead not to more jobs but to more misery. We know that companies take advantage of free labour and that workfare fuels the precarious elements of the labour market. We know that big private employment and training companies are good at churning the unemployed through their programmes but not at securing them good, lasting jobs. We also know that workfare schemes mask the real level of unemployment. The advantage of a copycat system of welfare-to-work, however, is that we also know the cracks and weaknesses in workfare that claimants and campaigners in the UK have been able to exploit. Already, campaigns in Ireland like Scambridge have highlighted the exploitation of workfare and demanded alternatives. The internship scheme, JobBridge, is increasingly seen as a scam and a farce, ‘a free-for-all for any company that wants free labour’ as one website puts it. Coalitions are forming against workfare and organising demonstrations that call for an end to the schemes already in existence. As a network of resistance emerges in Ireland, possibilities for co-ordinated international action could undermine workfare still further.
In Stopping workfare in Ireland (Boycottworkfare)