A report produced by the University of Portsmouth and accountancy firm PKF, “Welfare to Work in the 21st Century”, is based in part, it says, on interviews with “23 clients from difficult to employ groups: 18 of who were identified via Kennedy Scott and 5 via the GMB”.
Kennedy Scott is an employment training provider currently delivering the New Deal programme for the Department for Work and Pensions in London and the South East. The report recommends that “the DWP pilot a US welfare-to-work programme developed by America Works". The same US workfare company is known for the draconian regime it imposes on its unemployed “clients”.
In a statement on the report GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny is quoted as saying: “The GMB is looking at how best to support both our members who are facing redundancy as the public sector cuts bite and those suffering the scourge of long term unemployment. We welcome the idea of pilots across the country to evaluate how best to do this.”
Since then a furore has erupted about why the GMB is, seemingly, supporting workfare. Paul Kenny wrote the following in response to a protest by Brighton and Hove TUC:
“The GMB and myself are 100 percent opposed to Workfare and the privatisation of any public service including Employment services.
“[re]... the document Kennedy Scott put out which suggested the GMB supported its contents by way of our logo... [the] GMB would never support welfare to work and we are pledged to support PCS in their struggle to retain direct employment services like Jobcentreplus."
Kenny cannot of course claim that the GMB did not take part in the original research.
Working-class solidarity alone demands that the trade unions have nothing to do with introducing workfare for the unemployed or bringing private companies into the welfare system.
Rank and file activists in the GMB need to hold the leadership of the union to account.