Just a short posting from last week’s stall as it was mercifully quiet. However we did speak to one woman whose ‘job coach’ seems to have taken on board the DWP mission so thoroughly that she is never off duty. So enthusiastic was she about the benefits of unpaid ‘work experience’ that she stopped the woman when she saw her in the street to try and persuade her to take up a ‘work experience’ opportunity. Even if well-intended, this seems to us far from professional and akin to harassment. The woman has recent experience in retail and was far from enthusiastic about working for nothing in Tesco’s café. We were able to reassure her that ‘work experience’ is not compulsory and that it should be made clear if any activity is mandatory and sanctionable (if in doubt ask). And we agreed that anyone working for Tesco should be paid by Tesco. (The picture is from an Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty protest in 2012.)
We also talked with someone who had had a temporary job at The Range and told us that reading our posts about the extensive use of ‘work experience’ there made her realise why they had had no need to take her on permanently. In fact, she said they were clearly doing their best to get rid of all long-term employees. She described the strange atmosphere on paydays, when some of the staff received their brown envelopes but the people on benefits who had been working alongside them got nothing.
And talking of over-diligent job-coaches – we received this account from a friend in Glasgow:
‘Was threatened with a sanction for being 3 mins late the other week by my new advisor. The next-time I signed on I was asked why I never turned up for my last signing as she had failed to put through my details!! Lucky I had brought the letter threatening my sanction which was proof of my attendance. No apology just more stress.’