Last week the Right to Work campaign scored a big victory. The protest group, whose avowed mission is to “stop the cuts, defend public services and the welfare state, and fight for every job,” forced Tesco to modify their involvement in the government’s work experience scheme. While the group may be satisfied, there is a real danger that their actions may prove more damaging to the prospects of the unemployed people whom they claim to represent, than the companies whom they have erroneously accused of exploiting “slave labour.”
Tesco roused the ire of Right to Work after the company gave unemployed benefit claimants four-week work experience placements, with participants receiving expenses and Jobseeker’s Allowance but no pay. For the Right to Work campaign this amounted to “slave labour,” and they duly bombarded Tesco stores with sit-ins. To take the sting out of the protests and play down mounting negative publicity, Tesco responded by announcing that they would offer new entrants onto the scheme the choice to work unpaid and keep their benefits, or receive the minimum wage and a guaranteed job should they complete their placement satisfactorily.