Firstly, can I point out, workfare is not slave labour; and it is insulting for the Left to suggests workfare is similar to labour camps in North Korea and China. The victims of the transatlantic slave trade did not work 9-5 hours and receive benefits from the government; in fact, majority died of exploitation and torture. Unlike those participating in Workfare.
But excusing the ignorance of the Left, Workfare is wrong and immoral. It gives certain businesses unfair advantage in the labour market and access to cheap workers. Company A does not have to compete with Company B,C and D IF the state is providing them with much needed labourers. And benefit payments substitute the requirement of a potential minimum wage; therefore, Company A is allowed to bypass specific laws and competition requirements. Only because the government said it was OK.
How is that fair? Company B risks legal action and investigations, if it avoided providing the basic minimum wage to employees. Workfare is a prime example of the consequences and long term damage of government intervention. Unemployment data becomes irrelevant if the state is distorting job creation and the overall ability of the labour market to function.
Of course, the principle of Workfare is not really the problem. Providing the unemployed with work experience, whilst receiving benefits, is a good way to achieve responsibility and a sense of reward. But restricting them to certain businesses, who signed up to the program, is the controversial point. The Department of Work and Pensions decides who receives the free labour and when. The individual has little say in the process. In all, it is false job creation and a cheap method to bring the unemployment rate down; technically, these people are working.
Like the East India Company, Workfare is crony state corporatism and a product of ministerial favourtism. A select few of approved businesses have access to thousands of cheap labour whilst the rest have to compete for workers. Sadly, due to the rise of state capitalism, Workfare is the precursor to more government intervention and the decline of true free and competitive labour markets.
Welcome to 21st Century state corporatism.