Mais uma reflexão sobre o que vem ocorrendo no mundo do trabalho. Segundo reportagem do diário londrino "The Guardian", jovens estão sendo chamados para um "período de experiência" em que prestam trabalho gratuito, "correndo o risco" de serem um dia contratados como empregados, inclusive com direito ao salário.Segue a reportagem, publicada em 23.fev.2012
'Back to work' firm in new row as it forces jobseekers to work for FREE in its own offices By JASON GROVES and SAM GREENHILL
Last updated at 1:26 PM on 23rd February 2012
The firm behind a controversial 'back-to-work' scheme forced desperate jobseekers to take unpaid employment at their own offices or face having their benefits stripped, it has emerged.
It also sent people to work for free at supermarket giants Sainsbury's and Asda and a host of other businesses.
A4e, a contractor to the Government’s flagship Work Programme, run by millionaire Emma Harrison, has come under increasing pressure after news that police have launched a second fraud inquiry in to the firm.
Investigation: Emma Harrison's beleaguered firm A4e is to face a second inquiry involving state contracts it was revealed last night
Now, in a response to a freedom of information request made by The Guardian, it has been revealed that A4e dispatched jobseekers to carry out unpaid work in its own offices.
Before the revelations Prime Minister David Cameron defended the idea of work experience for young people in the Commons.
Speaking yesterday he said: 'It is not a compulsory scheme; it is a scheme that young people are asked to go on and the findings are that around half of them are actually getting work at the end of these schemes.
Questions: Fiona Mactaggart challenged David Cameron at PMQs yesterday by asking what action was being taken but the PM is expected to defend the scheme
'That is a far better outcome than the Future Jobs Fund.
'I think we should encourage companies and encourage young people to expand work experience because it gives people a chance of seeing work and all that it involves and gives them a better chance to get a job'.
Protests and widespread campaigns against Tesco's involvement in the programme resulted in the business doing a dramatic U-turn on their involvement in the scheme, while Sainsbury's have also backed out.
Today Cameron is expected to say that attacks on these companies have gone too far and will urge businesses to defend themselves from 'dangerous rhetoric'.
According to his office, he will say: 'Put a young person into college for a month’s learning, unpaid, and it’s hailed as a good thing.
'Put a young person into a supermarket for a month’s learning, unpaid, and it’s slammed as slave labour.
'Frankly I am sick of this anti-business snobbery.'
U-turn: A freedom of information response has revealed that Sainsbury's took on jobseekers for unpaid work, but the company has since pulled out of the controversial 'back-to-work' scheme
The freedom of information request was directed at just one of the three A4e offices, in Holloway, north London, but reveals that from 12 months up until June 2011 the firm was sending jobseekers to its other two locations as well as other small businesses and charities to work unpaid or face losing out on their benefits.
It comes after news that police have already launched a second fraud inquiry involving state contracts run by his millionaire ‘back-to-work’ tsar Emma Harrison.
Mrs Harrison’s beleaguered firm A4e volunteered details of the second investigation last night as it tried to counter claims that it was involved in ‘systemic’ abuse of taxpayer-funded contracts.
The move came after the Department for Work and Pensions revealed it had launched no fewer than nine fraud investigations into the firm in recent years.
Ministers were last night distancing themselves from 48-year-old Mrs Harrison, who was appointed by the Prime Minister in 2010 to help get 120,000 ‘problem families’ into work.
A senior Government source indicated she was likely to lose the role if evidence emerged that fraud was widespread and ongoing at the company, which earned £180million from state contracts last year. Her firm could also be stripped of its current lucrative Government deals.
Earlier this month the Daily Mail revealed that Mrs Harrison had paid herself a dividend of £8.6million last year, despite her firm’s failure to meet Government targets on finding jobs for the unemployed.
A4e last night insisted that there was ‘no place for fraud’ at the company.
It said the second police inquiry involved a subcontractor on one of the back-to-work contracts it manages, and did not involve any A4e staff.
But the revelation came hours after it emerged that Thames Valley had arrested four former A4e staff on suspicion of defrauding the taxpayer.
The DWP said it had launched nine investigations into alleged fraud at A4e since 2005.
In five cases the firm was ordered to repay thousands of pounds to the taxpayer after evidence of ‘irregularities’ was uncovered. In one case last year a former employee in Hull pleaded guilty to eight counts of forgery.
In a statement last night the DWP said: ‘We do not intend to comment about the current investigations.
Astonished: Margaret Hodge said she could not believe that the DWP did not routinely call in police to investigate fraud allegations
‘While these cases do not relate to current contracts including the Work Programme, we have reminded A4Ee of their contractual obligations and if there is evidence of systemic fraud in either current or past contracts, we will not hesitate to terminate our commercial relationship with them.’
Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said: ‘This suggests there may be systemic problems within the organisation. The Government should suspend all contractual obligations until investigations are complete.’
She said it was ‘astonishing’ that the DWP did not routinely call in the police to investigate allegations of fraud. But the DWP said it was for A4e to take ‘appropriate disciplinary action’ in cases where there was not enough evidence to justify a criminal investigation.
In the Commons yesterday former Home Office minister Fiona Mactaggart challenged the Prime Minister over A4e. She asked: ‘What action are you taking to make sure neither vulnerable unemployed people nor the taxpayer are victims of fraud by A4e?’
Mr Cameron said the allegations against the firm appeared to relate to back-to-work contracts it held under the last Labour government.
He said a police investigation was ongoing but added: ‘The investigation needs to be thorough, it needs to get to the truth and then we can take into account its findings.’
A source at the DWP said it was ‘literally impossible’ for A4e or any other company to defraud the Work Programme in the way that has been alleged in the past because the main payments are not made until people have been in jobs for several days.
In a statement A4e said it operated in an ‘intensely regulated and audited industry’, and had its own internal audit team monitoring the work of staff and subcontractors.
The company said: ‘All these cases relate to historical contracts and that the current Work Programme eliminates any opportunity for malpractice because it is computer-based and payment is on results.’
Chief executive Andrew Dutton said the firm was ‘proud’ of its record, adding: ‘There is no place for fraud at A4e.’
Director of scandal-hit firm used to work for Cameron
TV appearance: Jonty Oliff-Cooper in the Channel 4 reality series The Edwardian Country House
A former Tory official who worked in David Cameron’s inner circle and was an aide tohis policy adviser Steve Hilton is now a director of scandal-hit A4e, it emerged last night.
In an example of ‘revolving door politics’, Jonty Olliff-Cooper joined A4e armed with top-drawer Conservative Party contacts.
Critics said it was evidence of the cosy relationship between the Government and A4e, which holds Whitehall contracts worth tens of millions of pounds.
At Mr Cameron’s Policy Unit, Mr Olliff-Cooper was Tory guru Steve Hilton’s close aide for a year from 2008 to 2009.
The party came to power in 2010 and months later Mr Oliff-Cooper moved into the private sector with A4e.
Mr Olliff-Cooper, 29, went to school at Winchester College, then studied modern history at Oxford University before taking an MPhil in cultural and political history at Cambridge University.
After joining the Boston Consulting Group as an associate he worked with the Department for International Development for a year. He then taught for two years at the Prime Minister’s old school, Eton.
He joined the Conservative Party as a policy adviser in 2008 and a year later was a head of programme of the Progressive Conservative Project at Demos – an independent think-tank.
In September 2010 he joined the A4e group as a director of policy and strategy. Months later, A4e founder Emma Harrison was appointed Mr Cameron’s ‘families tsar’ with a brief to get problem households ‘back to work’.
Ten years ago, Mr Olliff-Cooper was filmed lording it over servants as he starred in a TV reality show.
His family appeared in Channel 4’s The Edwardian Country House at Manderston House in Berwickshire in 2002. Critics claimed at the time that Mr Olliff-Cooper played his part with ‘relish’.
When New Labour was in power, A4e forged close links to its ministers. One of A4e’s consultants is David Blunkett, the former work and pensions secretary who advocated private involvement in welfare reform.
Mr Blunkett declares on the register of MPs’ interests that he is paid up to £30,000 a year by A4e. There is no suggestion of impropriety by Mr Blunkett, but he may be embarrassed by the probe.
Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, said he plans to request details about Mr Olliff-Cooper’s access to Government.
Last night A4e said Mr Olliff-Cooper was abroad and unavailable for comment.