Poverty group: work not a solution, wants ‘unconditional welfare’

In response to the proposal by Shane Jones to get ‘the ne-er do well nephs’ off the couch and into work, Auckland Action Against Poverty says that it will fail to address unemployment.

They suggest that “we need to start thinking towards unconditional welfare and less about work as the solution to unemployment”.

Work-for-the-Dole Will Fail to Address Unemployment

Work-for-the-dole schemes will not lead to training and upskilling of youth, they will instead instill in our young people the idea that low wages and exploitation is all they are worth.

“Work-for-the-dole fails to address the root causes of unemployment and instead allow businesses to profit from poverty,” says Vanessa Cole, Co-ordinator of Auckland Action Against Poverty.

“Work-for-the-dole schemes allow employers to exploit beneficiaries and drive down the conditions of employment more generally.

“These schemes benefit employers, not workers. They allow businesses to have free labour and be subsidised by the government which undermines full-time employment and decent wages.

This is way off on a tangent. Jones was suggesting Government work like planting trees.

“The work-focussed policies of both Labour and National over the past 40 years have led to increased levels of poverty, and have resulted in businesses massively increasing private wealth.

“Work-for-the-dole allows for businesses to continue to make massive amounts of profit while driving down the conditions of employment.

“The nature of work is precarious and insecure. Beneficiaries are being placed in a poverty trap between low benefit payment and low wages frequently moving between the two.

“Work & Income already use work-focussed policy to coerce people into low-waged work which is often temporary and does not increase the wellbeing of the beneficiary.

Low waged work can also be a stepping stone to higher paid work. It’s quite common for young people to start at the bottom and for many of them to work their way up. At least it was.

“Work-for-the-dole schemes internationally have failed to address unemployment and in Australia have actually led to increased joblessness and benefit dependency.

“This is because the job market people are being placed into is inherently insecure and does not offer decent work.

“Both unemployed and employed workers need to have a liveable income. This will actually challenge employers to increase pay and conditions because it removed the coercive incentive to work.

“With the future of work moving more towards precarity, we need to start thinking towards unconditional welfare and less about work as the solution to unemployment.”

So Vanessa Cole is suggesting that unemployed should have “a liveable income” as well as “unconditional welfare”.

She says the work-for-the-dole schemes “internationally have failed to address unemployment” – I’d be interested to hear if unconditional welfare has worked anywhere in the world – but suggests that we should think less about “work as the solution to unemployment”.

Her solution seems to be lots of money with work optional.