Star date: 9th October 2012


Despite City Mayor Ian Stewart rattling on about "establishing…a Living Wage of £7.23 per hour as the minimum remuneration for council employees", the Salford Star can reveal that Salford Council has been recruiting "voluntary unpaid" young workers, under the guise of `work experience', in such things as street cleaning... Lucky unpaid volunteers will receive a £20 High Street Voucher for their efforts!

Full story here…

In today's Manchester Evening News, which hands a whole column to Ian Stewart to write what he wants, Salford's City Mayor goes on about the "scourge of youth unemployment" and how "employment is still the most effective way to escape the poverty trap".

He adds that he is seeking to establish "a Salford Employment Standard Charter which would include a Living Wage of £7.23 per hour as the minimum remuneration for council employees". Fine words. But behind the hype, Salford Council has been recruiting well over 100 "voluntary unpaid" young unemployed people to work in such areas as street cleaning and gardening.

The latest batch of "voluntary unpaid" workers began at the beginning of September. Salford Council publicity that went out with the recruitment drive offered such benefits as "the opportunity to develop generic and transferrable key skills" and "to build your confidence"sweeping streets?

For those lucky enough to take part, during the eight weeks "voluntary unpaid" period, young workers received a free bus travel pass, and, after four weeks attendance, a FREE £20 HIGH STREET VOUCHER!

The work experience scheme, Salford Futures, is different from its predecessor, Future Jobs in Salford, in which those attending work experience placements were actually paid. All this scheme promises on completion is a possible `apprenticeship opportunity' and being added to the `Recruitment/Talent Pool'.

According to an e-mail seen by the Salford Star, to get on the Salford Futures scheme, back in August, applicants had to undergo a `speed dating event' with Salford Council managers to be matched to `work placement opportunities'.

Given the rate that Salford Council is axing staff plus its attempts to impose wage cuts, this free labour scheme must be a dream from heaven – and a long way from City Mayor Ian Stewart's propaganda about establishing a Living Wage of £7.23 per hour for ALL Salford Council employeesAll, except young unemployed kids from Salford?

Winston Smith wrote
at 15:07:58 on 12 October 2012
Here's a suggestion: It's admirable to volunteer, but why not do voluntary work for organisations that aren't just using you to save money so they can pay big fat salaries to their Mayors and Chief Execs?
life is loud wrote
at 10:45:15 on 12 October 2012
I wuld love to do voluntary work am so bored at home its a way of giving something back to society it should not be aimed at just the young but also older retired people who would love to do something or are you going to censor this as well
Nachtshlepper wrote
at 22:05:20 on 11 October 2012
There are those willing f or work for nothing, very laudible, if a little dim. The point is though that wjile you are doing these "courses" you are doing a job that you, or somebody else should be paid for doing. Why are there those that refuse to see that? As for the pillock going on about council workers not being fit to work in the private sector. I'll just point out that every privatised industry has been an unmittigated disaster. But I supposed you too thick to realise that.
Angela Lynch wrote
at 13:50:24 on 11 October 2012
I also agree with Alison Cook, and think this article is unfair. If the writer had got in touch with the people who are on this scheme, then he would realise that this is a great scheme for the long term unemployed, who are struggling to get back into work. I was unemployed for nearly a year, when i saw the advert for fjs. I too was struggling on benefits, and was getting really depressed looking for work, i applied for hundreds of jobs, and felt like id achieved something just by getting an interview, as i got less than 5 interviews for all the jobs id applied for. I started my voluntary work for the NHS at the end of January 2012, and completed it by the end of April, i really enjoyed my time there and felt part of the team, who gave me all the help i needed to brush up my pc skills, and get my confidence back. Yes we did get a free bus pass and 2 lots of vouchers for £20, which amounted to £40 in total, but i didnt do it for the free pass and vouchers, it was because i was desperate to get back into work. I was offered a paid placement through the talent pool with Salford council as a customer advisor, which was a temporary contract for 3 months, which has now been extended till the end of March 2013. I feel i have now got my life back through being employed by Salford council, and i dont think i would have gained employment without the voluntary work i did. Doing the voluntary work, proves to an employer, that you are eager to get back into work, and you can prove that you can do the job and i did it because i wanted to do it, i wasnt told to do it by the job centre. I have gained valuable new skills and am currently doing an NVQ in Customer Service. I have made lots of new friends. Thank you FJS
Winston Smith wrote
at 18:52:05 on 10 October 2012
Stacy, Stephen, Alison: I don't think there's anything wrong with voluntary work in itself. Demonstrably, it can give people useful experience that sometimes can lead to paid work. The problem is with the council - they're advertising *one hundred* unpaid jobs (without even a mention of training) at the same time as laying people off. On paper, at least, it looks like a cynical Thatcher style attempt to get free workers to fill the gap left by paid workers.
Andy Porketts wrote
at 18:51:58 on 10 October 2012
Nobody should be conned into working for no pay . This is a disgrace .
at 18:51:51 on 10 October 2012
Im so glad for those people who have written in to say they have secured a job out of the scheme. Even though in Alisons case her first work placement chose not to keep her on despite her wages being paid from taxpayers money-not Salford Councils. Everyone should work if they can-no one disputes that, the problem lies with employers who dont pay a living wage (not minimum) to their staff...and this includes SCC. The real sadness is that many full time workers are suffering the humiliation of means testing to secure top up benefits in order to make ends meet. Be it WFTC,childcare costs, free school meals, council tax or housing allowances-no matter what way you dress it up they are benefits/subsidies. Add to that the incessant media hype which implies that if you claim a benefit youre a scrounger. One time most people earned enough wages to pay their way, and even have a bit left over for the weekend- all without govt subsidies. Whats gone wrong -why arent wages keeping abreast of the very basic outgoings?
Graham Cooper wrote
at 18:51:38 on 10 October 2012
I agree entirely with Alison. Although this scheme is different to the last one, the ethics of it still remain. It is massive step to move into employment, let alone do it for free. These opportunities present real work experiences, but without the pressure of real work, it allows people to grow into there roles . With the many young people and adults I have referred into this scheme, work and its responsibilities has been a new experience. The staff and agencies who collectively work on this project do an excellent job of helping and facilitating training,work-experience and employment for most. You fail to understand Salford Star that this is not a BBC/Media City Stunt, but a real attempt to help unemployed Salford People. Another added benefit of this project is the opportunity for young people who have certificates in recognised Trades and yet can not get the practical experience in the work place. I have seen on numerous occasions that this showcasing of their skills has succeed in finding employment with companies who have facilitated the trial period.I have also witnessed young people having positive "Pathways" created for them to overcome all there past setbacks. Here are some Statistics from December 2011 till now that I personally know of 15 FJF placements all at minimum wage for six months 12 Still employed with there host. all employment costs now being meet by there companies 1 Redundancy 2 Never completed placements If you add up the benefit saving alone to the state by the year end that will be £60K and in fact a lot of these people are now actually contributing to the national purse. KEEP IT UP
Alison Cook wrote
at 14:04:42 on 10 October 2012
I think this article is very unfair. I am on FJF right now, but I've done the voluntary bit now I'm on the paid part. I loved this scheme, I think it is a great idea. So many people are struggling to find work, this just gives you a step in the right direction. I was already doing voluntary work at a homeless charity Mustard Tree before I started on FJF. I had to apply to be able to go on it, there was a waiting list, which obviously proves it popularity. When I started the voluntary 8 weeks in January this year I had a great time, I made friends and loved the work and was getting the all important experience (which is so important to employers) on the last day of my placement I found out I had been offered a job on the FJF scheme through a company in Salford, I had interviewed for the job and was successful. I was there 3 months from March - June and the council paid my wages. At the end of the 3 months the employer chose not to keep me on that occassion, but I didn't particularly like the work environment anyway, so I was glad. FJF told me there was a few jobs going actually working within the Council's admin team. I interviewed for this about a week after my other job finished, and I got one of the jobs. I didn't give up. I started working in the Admin team at the end of July and I'm almost at the end of my 3 months, but they have informed me they are keeping me on to do an NVQ in Business Admin. If you're willing to work and don't give up you will find there are opportunities out there. FJF is for young and old alike. I know of a number of people who had been on FJF more than 1yr or so ago and they are still here at the Council. This scheme gives people a chance.
Gertie Hiles wrote
at 14:03:02 on 10 October 2012
Since when has council 'work' been gainful employment .? Council work is the refuge of people unemployable in the real world of work , the private sector . Coucil work is poor value for the over-priced 'services' provided . A con , a rip-off. Local councils, and their cretinous hordes of thicko's should be scrapped .
Adam Morris wrote
at 14:02:29 on 10 October 2012
Poor article based on nothing more than a piece of paper / email, which clearly doesn't tell anywhere near the full story and just what the journalist wants to tell. Perhaps we should be cutting their jobs since they can not seem to do it properly. Next time, learn to speak to people who have been on the courses for their feelings instead of telling them how you think we feel.
at 10:20:49 on 10 October 2012
In this day and age its an absolute disgrace that hard working people are having to go cap in hand for top up benefits in order to survive. If you look on many jobsite you will see that more and more local jobs are paying minimum wage-with a rider that this can be "topped up" by working tax credit. This is still a "benefit", same goes for & housing council tax benefit. If rent is £90 per wk, council tax £25, Gas £15, Electric £15, Water rates £8, TV licence £3, busfares £15, home insurance £4, then also have to feed and cloth yourself. The take home pay for someone working full time on minimum wage is just over £220. Employers know they can get away with these nil hr contracts and minimum wages (or slightly over it in SCC case)because the government is effectively subsidising these emloyers by topping up staff wages. So, if the government has assessed that you need a minimum of say £400 per week to pay your way without a top up benefit, why cant the govt and unions lobby employers to use that same assessment to reflect a living wage?
LeonC wrote
at 22:50:21 on 09 October 2012
Simon you need to do some research on the matter because like many you are out of touch just like our Govt. The unemployed have to do this type of work because if they do not there benefits will be sanctioned and that can be heavily too.
not happy wrote
at 22:50:13 on 09 October 2012
Let’s see if we can compare our Government and Salford Council with the past. We have the Prime Minister David Cameron substitute for King John John's reputation as a leader had been severely dented as far back as 1185 when Henry II sent him to Ireland to rule. John proved to be a disaster and within six months he was sent home. John was forced to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215. This guaranteed the people of England rights that the king could not go back on. In 1216, John tried to go back on the Magna Carta but this only provoked the barons into declaring war on him. John was a tyrant. He was a wicked ruler who did not behave like a king. He was greedy and took as much money as he could from his people. Is this history repeating it’s self we have David Cameron before the Election promising all things he going to do then go’s back on his word, killing the welfare state that has been working since 1945. So now we have the people (up in arms) Unions protesting against pay and pension conditions Credit: ITV Central Thousands of workers from across the Midlands will strike and take other forms of industrial action today, in a protest over public sector pensions, pay and jobs. This was in May 2012 and there are more protest expected in the future. Salford Council with Mayor Ian Steward, he could be the sheriff of Nottingham with his thirteen nasty Barons, burning all the Drop ins, making monuments to him self that cost millions, giving money to projects that don’t need it making up new taxes, double room tax, making cut’s to the work force, getting rid of the support workers and trying to put volunteer slaves in there place, so really in stead of going forward we are going backward in to the dark ages, so much for our caring sharing Sheriff and his robber barons, think we need a Robin Hood don’t think that would work now though.
archie dean wrote
at 22:49:09 on 09 October 2012
just been told my rent has gone up to £80 per week its took me 6 years to get them to do my damp sorted out ive been sat here not been able to do any decorating now ive started stripping wallpaper and asked them when we will be moderenised like all the other flats round here they keep saying next year ive had that since 2009 cause we live in flats we are nowt we dont count yet we still have to pay top rent
Stephen Hall wrote
at 22:49:01 on 09 October 2012
Having been unemployed for some considerable time,I requested to go on the FJF working for Salford City Council, I VOLUNTEERED. I have been volunteering for 18 months with The British Red Cross and prospective employers were still passing me by. At the age of 50 I was afraid I would be on benefits for life. The FJF has given me the confidence and the experience I was looking for. I now have a paid job within the council. Without the guidance and mentoring from the people I worked with at Salford Council I would still be languishing on Jobseekers allowance. The FJF must continue it's work in assisting both young and old in returning to gainful employment.
at 18:24:51 on 09 October 2012
£7.23p for council workers? What about other low paid workers? I dont mind him looking after these workers but come on...what about other low paid employeees across all the sectors, private and public. Is it not the Mayors job set some goals within the Salford business sector? As Mayor he could, at the very least, have attempted to champion £7.23p as a minimum wage for everyone. I thought the Mayor was supposed to be a mover and shaker- fighting eveyones corner-not just council public sector employees.
Stacy Mckeown wrote
at 18:22:44 on 09 October 2012
As a salford resident and a late fjf applicant I am disgusted to see this kind of negativity from my own people regardless off new mayor or council this or council that I now have a full time job through this scheme and have been able to start 'LIVING' instead of just being a statistic on benefits without this scheme I would probably still be on benefits as there is no way you can just walk into a job these days. I owe alot to the Future Job Fund and my daughter would agree as she has had her first holiday abroad in 10 years. It has also give me a new found confidence which I lost being on benefits I also have a better quality of life. The bus pass might not mean anything to some people but it comes in handy when your penniless and trying to acheive something in your life and also the vouchers were a nice gesture of thanks and it was nice to feel wanted and appreciated. At least the "COUNCIL" and "THE NEW MAYOR" is actually doing something to help people get back to work weather its paid or un paid shouldnt be an issue as at the end of it you will gain employment.
NO More wrote
at 18:22:39 on 09 October 2012
This is disgraceful. The unemployed are being cynically exploited by this council of cheats , liars , and bullshitters . This must end now .
Winston Smith wrote
at 14:19:23 on 09 October 2012
Interesting that the pay is in High Street vouchers. I would have thought it would be Tesco vouchers, council drawers must be stuffed with them
Brian F Kirkham wrote
at 13:37:38 on 09 October 2012
Sighs! A government idea unwittingly poached by our executive mayor and his team - Unpaid work experience. Of course, they did this in the 80s and Nineties - under the veils of the careers service and/or the Employment service...Nothing New, its just the name and packaging of the scheme has changed...will it lead to our youngsters achieving this "living wage"? I will wait and see with an open mind.
Winston Smith wrote
at 13:37:33 on 09 October 2012
Maybe we should tell the council about this *Real Employer* mentioned in the advert, they might take on some of the redundant council staff
Simon Poole wrote
at 13:37:10 on 09 October 2012
Look up the word voluntary! These unpaid workers are choosing to do this. I'm sure if nobody was willing to take up the offer then the scheme would be dead in the water. If somebody wants to work for nowt, then let em.
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