A NEW twist on the welfare to work debate.
A young woman in Birmingham is taking the Government to court under the Human Rights Act for indenturing her into forced labour.
Unemployed geology graduate Cait Reilly has been volunteering at a museum in the hope of getting a permanent position. The Department for Work and Pensions says she must stack shelves unpaid at Poundland as part of a work programme or lose her £53.45 Jobseeker's Allowance.
Reilly says she has a basic human right not to stack shelves at Poundland. This is, of course, in conflict with the DWP's right to treat all claimants as workshy rogues. And the Conservative Party's right to pay private sector chums large sums of money for harassing the unemployed and the disabled into any kind of work.
Not for nothing is the payment referred to as a bounty. There is an element of scalp-hunting to this pursuit of the workless.
There is a job going at Edinburgh Zoo if anyone on the work programme is interested. It involves wearing a panda suit and lolling about pretending to eat bamboo.
It is casual employment replacing Yang Guang, the male member of the zoo's star attraction who has not been making public appearances. He has a touch of colic, possibly due to his 30lbs-of-bamboo-shoots-a-day lifestyle.
Let's hope Yang Guang's absence is temporary and he has not gone all Scottish and become susceptible to the sick-note culture.
Before we know it, he'll be getting a 13-week line from the zoo vet. And then he will go on to disability so he doesn't have to show his face to the public at all.
If Yang Guang is not careful the DWP (the department for work and pandas) may declare him fit for stacking shelves at Poundland.
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