Jobless graduate asks court to outlaw 'slave labour' schemes

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The Independent Online

The Government was forced to deny exploiting "slave labour" yesterday over its controversial "workfare" schemes which see jobseekers working for no wages.

An unemployed graduate, who claims she was made to work in a shop for no pay other than her benefits, has asked the High Court to declare that her human rights were breached in a case which could have far-reaching implications for the Government's flagship back-to-work programme.

Lawyers for Cait Reilly, 23, said their client was made to carry out tasks which "did not contribute to [her] search for work to any extent". Nathalie Lieven QC told Mr Justice Foskett that Ms Reilly was told to carry out basic tasks such as sweeping and shelf-stacking "without training, supervision or remuneration".

An unemployed 40-year-old is also challenging the legality of another government work scheme that pays no wages.

A DWP spokesman said: "We will be contesting these cases vigorously. These schemes are not slave labour."