One of the most consistent complaints that slave overseers make about their unpaid labourers is that they are lazy and inefficient workers. This is usually put down to a failing in the character of the slave. Sometimes it is argued that if the business making use of the slaves is itself efficient and well-run, the slave labour will be efficient and profitable. Specific examples of this argument have been refuted.
Workfare is not (yet) slave labour. Chris Grayling is right to argue that if someone has been on the dole for 12 months, then it can only help to have 8 weeks of work experience.
The scheme is designed to get young, unemployed people into the workplace for up to eight weeks of work experience. One of the young people you interview says: “I was basically doing what a normal member of staff does”, but the placements are not long enough to be a replacement for permanent staff. However, they are long enough for a jobseeker to impress an employer and, at the very least, to leave with a good reference and some practical experience.
Grayling goes on to adjure “let’s not be snobbish about this – plenty of people have started on the bottom rung and climbed their way to the top”.