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Slave Labour?

Unemployed graduate Cait Reilly lost her high court claim against the government work placement scheme yesterday (6th August 2012). Reilly claimed that her unpaid work placement at Poundland was enforced slave labour and therefore in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Following the bad press at the start of the year some companies, such as Tesco, refused to take part in the work experience scheme for fear of being branded unethical or promoting slave labour. The government finally breathed a sigh of relief yesterday, as the judge ruled that the placement was not a human rights violation. Scheme Opinion Bristol MP Kerry McCarthy spoke on the topic in the Big Issue: “If a sub-contacted charity is trying to put people through an NVQ and wants to get people work experience, then another company can see the chance to use them for work without paying them,” she says. “The charity ticks its box… and the company gets cheap labour. But for the people on the programme, are they actually getting decent training? Are they getting decent opportunities? If people are working and the company can afford to pay them, why not put the hand in the pocket and actually pay them? There’s very little scrutiny about quality here.” Former boss of M&S Sir Stuart Rose is one of the leading figures that has spoken in favour of the scheme, as well as leading politicians and other business figures. The answer? With unemployment figures for the period March-May 2012 showing 1.02 million 16-24 year olds are out of work, on balance it is probably better to be learning new skills and meeting new contacts. Nothing will discourage young people seeking work more than sitting at home reading another rejection letter, with no other focus. What do you think? Emma Hughes http://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/ http://money.aol.co.uk/2012/02/28/should-the-government-scrap-its-work-experience-scheme/ http://www.parliament.uk/topics/Unemployment.htm

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