William Eichler 07 April 2016

Council suspends employment scheme for behaving like 'a Victorian workhouse'

A Scottish council has suspended a controversial employment scheme after revelations it was fining jobseekers for tutting and chewing gum.

North Ayrshire Council has decided to stop the delivery of the Strive employment course after it was revealed those on its 'work ready' training programme could be fined up to £7.50 if they did not comply with strict rules of behaviour.

The scheme, which was delivered by Lennox Partnership in conjunction with the local authority, was designed to instil good workplace etiquette.

The decision to close it down was taken after a participant posted a list of the fines that would be issued for what was deemed incorrect behaviour.

On 5 April a North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said the council was holding discussions with Lennox Partnership on the future of Strive.

'We are suspending recruitment to the programme to give us the necessary time to consider the issues that have been raised relating to the fines system,' the council spokesperson said.

'We will consider the evidence and different views on this element of the programme.'

Despite the complaints received, North Ayrshire was still complimentary about the programme, highlighting the progress it had made in helping people into work.

'Over the last four years, the Strive Programme has been a successful part of this process.

'It has been enjoyed by participants and businesses alike and perhaps most significantly has seen 90% of people taking part in our most recent programmes going on to find work.'

Colin Turbett, one of those who protested against Strive, told Third Force News: 'This protest was in support of the right of the jobless of the area to be treated with respect and dignity, and not like children in a Victorian workhouse.'

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