To be disabled is to have limitations in one’s ability to get through tasks that most people can do routinely, without a second thought. For those who’ve never been in that position, it’s hard to imagine how utterly humiliating it can be. Though there may be a few who would choose such a life, it should be obvious that the need for personal dignity precludes it in nearly all of us.
As part of the current UK government’s overhaul of the health and welfare systems, people with disabilities—including those diagnosed with terminal cancer, stroke victims, accident victims, those pressed into taking antipsychotics, and any others deemed needy of “work experience”—will be forced to labor for free, with no end in sight, or face losing their already meagre benefits.
In other words, the disabled will be forced into slave labor or lose the paltry amount that allows them to survive. Will the work help the disabled get a leg up into a career? We’ve already seen the sort of job that the unemployed with skills are expected to perform as slaves: menial, boring, dehumanizing work. What chance is there that the disabled will be pressed into anything better?
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been drawing up plans for the program under the Welfare Reform Bill. Section 54 is the new Workfare provision for the disabled. It will apply to the group placed in the category called Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). The name is misleading, but those placed in the WRAG class are considered unable to work, though with the possibility of being able to work in the future.
This program will be run by private interests, not by the government. The private interests will be the same ones currently operating the Workfare program for the unemployed. Their situation—their enslavement—is discussed in Both the US and the UK Governments Support Slavery of Their Own Citizens. People with university degrees are given “work experience” doing things like stocking shelves for discount chains.
People who receive benefits because their disabilities make them unable to work will be forced to work for corporations like supermarkets and discount stores. Sometime soon, when you walk into a supermarket to purchase a can of beans, keep in mind that it may have been placed there by someone with Parkinson’s disease or cancer.
Or, picture this entirely plausible scenario:
The person sitting in a wheelchair who stocked that shelf the night before could be someone who was an employee the previous year, but ended up in that chair after an accident that happened in that very same store because reasonable care wasn’t taken to prevent the injury. Before, that person was earning a wage for that work. Now, the same person will be doing it for free, because, otherwise, the pain medications would be taken away. And the corporation no longer pays the wages for that labor.
How likely is it that the private interests operating the slavery program will use slaves for their own benefit? Slave house cleaners? Slave gardeners? Slave file clerks in their offices? Why not? There doesn’t appear to be any rule against it.
Of course, those jobs being done by people whose lives have already become limited by disabilities will no longer be available for the able bodied. What will become of the health of these new age slaves? How will they ever have a chance to learn new skills, if they’re forced to spend their time performing labor for corporations?
Will we see the day when charity shops are staffed by the very people they’re supposedly helping?
The DWP, of course, has a different spin on this issue. According the The Guardian, a DWP spokesperson stated:
It is clear that some groups wish to label people with a variety of illnesses and conditions as unable to work. This is not only wrong, it is unfair to those individuals who despite their illness want to keep working.
Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that forcing people to work without pay, forever, with no end in sight, is for their benefit. When questioned about the potential length of an assignment, the spokesperson rather disingenuously stated:
Placements would normally be short-term, but there is currently no set duration and this will generally be agreed between the adviser and claimant.
In other words, a person on disability can be forced to labor for free forever. Seriously, what sort of “agreement” can possibly exist between a slave, now to be called a claimant by the DWP, and a slave master, now called an “advisor”.
This is just the beginning. Prisoners are forced into slave labor, and few people think anything about it, even though such labor eliminates wage-paying jobs. The young are already forced into slavery simply by being unemployed. Corporations are getting free labor for which they’d previously paid—and wage-paying jobs disappear. At least, each individual job being filled by an unemployed slave is limited to a few weeks.
Now, though, the plan is to eliminate the time limit for disabled slaves. No concern exists among the powers-that-be for the welfare of these people. The work they’ll be forced to do will likely harm them even further. They are, after all, receiving benefits because of an inability to work. Their time will be taken up trying to perform tasks they’re unlikely able to do well, perhaps causing them further harm and reducing their chances of recovery.
Workfare is a nice-sounding term. It brings forth an image of people learning to be productive, getting a leg up on life. The reality, though, is entirely different. In more language twisting, the government calls this “reform”. It’s not. It’s dismantling the safety net for those most in need.
Slavery is forced labor. It matters not what it’s officially called. A rose is a rose no matter what its name—and a latrine’s stench isn’t made sweet by calling it a perfume dispenser.
Tagged disability, disabled slave labor, politics, politics disabled labor, politics slavery, slave labor, uk disabled slave labor, uk slave labor, workfare disabled, workfare slave labor, workfare slavery