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Welfare reform in the UK

Dear Reader,

I am troubled by some of the ideas which the current conservative / liberal (illiberal) government have come up with between them. One of the latest ideas that the conservatives have come up with is the idea of “workfare”. The key idea is that the unemployed will be required to work for their money. If they refuse the work then the state will refuse them their money.

While it might seem attractive I see a problem, while the idea of making workshy lazy youngsters work might be appeal to many there is a problem I see.

1. Will the system include safeguards to avoid forcing people to work in jobs which they find morally offensive ?

For example is it reasonable to demand a vegetarian should work in a butcher’s shop ? Should we require people to work in the sex industry against their will ?

2. Will the system offer the same protections regarding work place health and safety as are offered to normal workers ?

My worry is that as a civilian I have the right to walk off a job if I think it is too unsafe. For example if a bunch of railway workers were told by their boss that they have to play chicken with a X2000 (or a Intercity 125) then they are free to complain to their union or even resign and walk off the job.

If on the other hand the workers are given the choice by the state of “play chicken with the high speed train” or stave then are they able to make a same choices regarding their safety ? I have even seen reports that the jobless in the UK have been encouraged to seek employment in clinical trials. The idea of forcing the jobless to take part in which might be dangerous clinical experiments reminds me of the idea of employing illegally homeless people to do asbestos work under unsafe conditions. It has happened already in the USA several times, you will be glad to know that the judges had a dim view of such depravity.

If the workfare system does appear in the UK it will be interesting to see what protections are built in to protect the jobless.

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