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Shane Jones' work-for-the-dole proposal 'precarious and insecure' employment - poverty action group

The Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) group has slammed Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones' work-for-the-dole proposal as failing to address the root causes of unemployment, and instead enabling "businesses to profit from poverty". 

The Minister Regional Economic Development Minister told TVNZ's Q+A programme he will take the proposal to cabinet. Source: Q+A

"These schemes benefit employers, not workers. They allow businesses to have free labour and be subsidised by the government which undermines full-time employment and decent wages," AAAP said in a statement today. 

The criticism comes after Mr Jones said he was "sick and tired" of people "sitting on the couch doing nothing".

Mr Jones told TVNZ1's Q+A yesterday one of four schemes to be announced by the government before Christmas would include forcing youth on the unemployment benefit to work for minimum wage.

However when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked on TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning whether she personally supported making it compulsory to work while on the benefit, or risk losing that benefit, she would not commit to the scheme.

"I'm not going to preempt the decision that has to be made by a collective group of people with all the information in front of us," she said.

National's Simon Bridges leapt onto this division, calling it the "latest embarrassment for Shane Jones". 

"[Shane Jones] is in favour of work for the dole, [Jacinda Ardern] wants a training programme. He wants it to be compulsory, she wants to put it in front of Cabinet, which won't support it.

"We all know who will win. The Labour Party and the left won't let work for the dole happen. They want to reduce work obligations, not increase them.

"Shane Jones should stop all his bluster about work for the dole and a billion trees. It's quite clear neither phrase actually means anything," Mr Bridges said in a statement. 

The AAAP said the nature of that type of work was "precarious and insecure". 

"Work and Income already use work-focused policy to coerce people into low-waged work which is often temporary and does not increase the wellbeing of the beneficiary. Work-for-the-dole schemes internationally have failed to address unemployment and in Australia have actually led to increased joblessness and benefit dependency," AAAP said.