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Disgraceful work-for-the-dole doesn't work

25 July 2005

Disgraceful work-for-the-dole doesn't work: Bradford

It is a disgrace that National and NZ First are promising an immediate return to forced work-for-dole if they win the election, Green Party Work and Income Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

National is proposing to have schemes forcing unemployed people into activities such as cleaning up graffiti running in three regions by next April, while NZ First is calling for military style training for people judged to be in need of discipline.

"Work-for-the-dole has manifestly failed in the past," Ms Bradford says.

"Voters need to be very wary of National, NZ First and any other party bidding to be the biggest beneficiary basher who put forward such simplistic solutions to unemployment and welfare problems.

"The Nats' Judith Collins can't even get her facts right. The Papakura 'Ambassador' scheme that she holds up as an example of work-for-the-dole is actually a Job Connections scheme. Job Connections, which subsidises employment for six months to the full extent of the minimum wage, is the most successful current employment scheme in terms of outcomes.

"Forced work-for-the-dole is very similar to periodic detention, except that the unemployed person has not committed a crime and doesn't have the benefit of a lawyer to defend them. Not only do such schemes punish people for being unemployed, they also fail to get people back into real jobs, as evidenced by Work and Income's own evaluation of the Nat-Peters scheme in the late nineties.

"The Green Party is committed to full employment and would like to see all jobseekers in work - but not in compulsory work-for-the-dole. All workers in this country deserve a job that pays at least the minimum wage for a full-time week and provides the same conditions to all who take it on, including the right to join a trade union.

"At a time of labour shortages in some districts and industries it is critical that unemployed people are helped into training, education and work that will help them meet the current demand, rather than being tossed aside into programmes that treat them with less respect and income than other workers.

"The other major factor National and NZ First are not taking into account is the high cost of administration. Even earlier proponents, including a number of councils and community groups, went off the idea because of the amount of funding needed. It is much wiser to invest in full-wage job creation, such as Job Connections, not in 'workfare' that causes people to lose their self-respect and actually decreases, rather than increases, their chances of getting a proper job," Ms Bradford says.


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