A man who was made redundant from his job has been ordered to work for 6 months at his old firm without pay by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
John McArthur, an electronics specialist, was sanctioned by a jobcentre for refusing to work unpaid at LAMH Recycle in Motherwell, a Scottish Social Enterprise. Mcarthur has said that he’s being forced to live off 16p spaghetti tins and without heating due to the sanction.
McArthur, 59, has revealed that he spent two hours each weekday morning outside the plant wearing a placard reading: “Say no to slave labour” for around three months.
He says he was happy to work for the company under the now-defunct future jobs fund for the minimum wage in 2010-2011, but refuses to do the same job unpaid on principle.
McArthur says he is surviving on a monthly pension of £149 after the DWP stopped his unemployment benefits until the New Year as punishment for his refusal to go on the 26-week community work placement (CWP).
LAMH Recycle has admitted it had as many as 16 people working for free for six months under the CWP scheme but also stated that six of the workers had moved into paid employment since the end of June.
Joe Fulton, the operations and development manager, defended the scheme saying that it “worked for people who want to make it work for them”.
Fulton also revealed that out of the firm’s paid workforce of 39, 25 had previously been unemployed.
McArthur claims he has been applying for 50 jobs a week without any luck and accused the CWP programme of being “entirely exploitative”.
He suggested that it came at the “expense of poor people who’ve got absolutely no choice”.
“The government deny it’s forced labour, that you can say no, but forced doesn’t always mean physical, it can be psychological or economic. The person who is trying to survive already on subsistence level welfare has absolutely no choice in the matter especially if they’ve got young children to look after,” he argued.