One-man protest over ‘slave labour’ scheme

John McArthur has been protesting about a Government work programme.
John McArthur has been protesting about a Government work programme.

An unemployed electronics worker has been staging a one-man daily protest against a Government ‘slave labour’ programme.

John McArthur says he has gone without state benefits since August after refusing to work for nothing and now can’t afford to heat his Motherwell home.

But he’s determined to keep highlighting what he says is ‘a deeply unethical and immoral system’.

Mr McArthur (59), of Dalziel Tower, has been standing outside LAMH Recyling in Range Road with placards and leaflets for two hours every weekday morning for nearly three months.

He said his jobseeker’s allowance was stopped after he refused to take up an upaid six-month ‘community work placement’ at LAMH. Previously he worked there and was paid the minimum wage.

Mr McArthur is angry that the registered charity, which employs people to repair computers and recycle paper and cans, has signed up for the Government scheme.

He said; “It’s essentially slave labour which bypasses the minimum wage regulations.

“My trade is electronics, but I’ve been applying for every kind of job. I make around 50 applications a week, but I refuse to work for nothing.”

Mr McArthur, who is single, said it’s not the first time he’s had his benefits stopped - he went without for 18 months after pulling out of another Government programme.

Although he has a works pension, he is struggling to survive without jobseeker’s allowance. He said: “I can’t put the heating on and I’m living on 16p tins of spaghetti.”

However, he takes encouragement from the support he’s been given by passers-by who listen to his story and hopes more people take a stand.

Mr McArthur said: “Many people feel they have no option but to sign up for this scheme, but if one person in every place in the country joined me then, collectively, we could bring about change.”