Today Mid-Lin Day Care Centre was holding an open day, providing a perfect setting for a bit of leafleting. The Centre has been a long-term workfare exploiter, and as they have failed to respond to any of our letters and emails, we thought we would ask the people going into the open day to ‘Please tell Mid-Lin Day Care Centre to STOP USING FORCED UNPAID LABOUR’. As the leaflet explained, ‘We told the centre that we will be here today in order to give them time to deny that they are still exploiting people via this system; as we have heard nothing from them we can only assume the worst.’
The sun was shining, the band was playing behind the grim spiked fence, and we were able to explain to some of those going in the difference between genuine volunteering and forced unpaid labour. John was able to tell them directly that not only had it not helped him find a job, but that as someone who had worked in hotel kitchens he hadn’t appreciated being forced to skivvy in the Centre’s kitchen for nothing and did not need the ‘experience’ for his CV. Of course there are always those people who don’t want to know, but we hope we have made some others think – including Shona Robison MSP who we leafleted as she left. As it was a relatively small event, we distributed the rest of our leaflets through the letter boxes of the surrounding houses.
Although the Mandatory Work Activity scheme is finished and no more people are being made to do Community Work Placements, there is still scope for unemployed people to be forced into mandatory unpaid work through the Work Programme, and organisations such as Mid-Lin make this modern slavery possible. There are plenty of schemes for genuine volunteering, so it is difficult to see why Mid-Lin are so resistant to ending this exploitation, especially as it must be better for everyone to have workers who actually want to be there.