Into The Desperate Country


“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country…”Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854)

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”ibid.



I attended my second appointment yesterday with my Work Program-pimp. I was reasonably satisfied with the way my first meeting had gone (you can read my account of that meeting HERE).

I had, I believe, successfully laid the groundwork for what I hope to be the outcome of my being assigned (unwillingly and under duress) to the Work Program: to be left alone.

I’m absolutely convinced that the whole thing is a scam and that the WP is no more likely to get me a decent job than my cat is.

So my priority is to avoid all the crap that the WP will try to lumber me with (all designed solely to increase the amount of money they hope to make off me)–the CV workshops, the interview workshops, the ‘enhanced’ job searches. the ‘confidence building’ workshops–and all the other worthless, soul-destroying bollocks that they’ll try to stick you in unless you nip it in the bud.

So, I went to this meeting with the attitude of a man who’s planning to make his way through a minefield.

After greeting me and inviting me to sit down, the first thing my advisor brought up was the Data Protection waiver that I’d refused to sign at the first meeting.

Had I reconsidered?

I had not; in fact, I told him, I feel more strongly than ever since I spoke to my union rep about the WP. Let me give you an example of why, I said.

I pointed to a phrase in the waiver that stated: “We may pass your data to our partners in the work program…“. That alone makes signing the waiver a non-starter, I told him.

I have no idea who your partners are or what their agenda is; they can decide to sell my data to a marketing company or a polling firm or some sales organisation and you’ll never know about it; more to the point, I’ll never know about it.

He looked resigned and nodded along.

I actually felt sorry for him; he’s not ‘evil’ or even ‘bad’. He’s simply a rather naive and gullible young man who’s probably really happy to have a job at all and is just trying to do his job to the best of his (somewhat limited) abilities. I’m sure that he actually believes all the happy, clappy bullshit that the pimps spout in their brochures and PR.

This is not a young man who’s given a great deal of thought to Marx’s theory of surplus labour/value.

Anyway, after he’d finished filling-in the various boxes on his computer screen, he tried again to turn me into a cash-cow (although I’m certain that’s not the way he sees it): would I like him to book me a CV workshop session?

Is it mandatory, I asked?

No, he said.

In that case, I’d rather concentrate on visiting potential job sites around the borough.

Did I have anywhere particular in mind? he asked.

I do, I said; I’m planning to visit a warehouse where I think they’re hiring.

His face brightened and he chirruped: I can book you into an ‘Interview Techniques’ workshop!

And what would be the point of that, I said: I think I know how to deal with an interview.

Oh, but the workshop can prepare you for ‘trick questions’, he said.

At this, I laughed out loud. Trick questions? For a minimum-wage packing job? It’s a warehouse, not the bloody C.I.A., I said.

At this, he had the good grace to look sheepish. Well, how about an enhanced ‘job search’, one-on-one session?

Look, I said; those are aimed at people who are unfamiliar with the internet, with browsers, with websites and with conducting searches. For me, it’d just be a waste of time. And that’s where we left it.

Next appointment in 4 weeks. The Cade Work Program Nullification Strategy® seems to be working a treat. 4 weeks between appointments? I reckon I’m already being cut loose and from now on, they’ll spend as little time as possible on me. Good.

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17 Responses to Into The Desperate Country

  1. wishface says:

    Good work.
    Problem with saying that you don’t need help is that they have a script in place for that: “well, if you were good at interviews/cv’s/jobsearching/poledancing then you would have a job, wouldn’t you!”
    Absolutely would I refuse to sign their forms. But how much of that data do they already have anyway, via the DWP?

  2. Jack Cade says:

    That’s the thing, @wishface…they already have a lot of your info. Ignore the petty stuff: the important thing is the Data Protection waiver: everything flows from that.

    As for the courses, I suspect they can force the issue if you really are unprepared. However, I turned up with 3 different versions of my CV; I’m obviously far more articulate and confident than any of the pimps I encountered; I already apply for more jobs than they’re likely to ask me to, etc etc…

    In other words, I’ve made it obvious that the courses are superfluous. Jesus, I make myself sound awful swell-headed…but it’s no great feat appearing (and this is all about appearances) cleverer, more organised and more competent than these fuckers.

    I think that’s the way to go; try to ensure that they can’t easily pigeon-hole you, because we just don’t know exactly how much power of compulsion the pimps have. We’re all learning as we go here.

  3. gissajob says:

    Just returned from “Welcome Aboard” and now preparing for signing on later today.
    My induction was a group of 2. Basically after a quick tour of the premises we were given a very short briefing we were handed a sheaf forms to complete and left alone to do it. I refused to sign both the waiver and the agreement and asked about training (internal only). I asked about A4e’s involvement in work for your benefit (street cleaning as mentioned in their tender document), the advisor was evasive. I quickly got kicked upstairs to the Team Leader with whom I had an appointment to discuss my complaint. Again an exchange of views with me saying that the answers given were not satisfactory since they only “explained” how their system had cocked up and not how it would be put right so expect an escalation to ICE.
    My question on the workfare quote brought out some bollox about it was a self employed initiative(self employed street cleaners to replace redundant local Govt employees? I don’t think so).
    Filled in most of the tick box forms showing I was really job ready (left the crim record blank [they didn’t notice] – may need that later).
    The whiteboard in the Team Leader’s office had interesting stuff on it – why for instance is there a monthly target for referring people to the money advice people? May be useful for some but why a specific target?
    I said I had some barriers to work – basically age, locale and unwilling to move.
    Was given an appointment for a month’s time (think I am on the road to parking here).
    I wasn’t pressurised in to any courses.
    I didn’t give any phone, mobile or e-mail details.
    All in all I’d give myself about 7and a half out of 10 and will do better next time.
    Now to compose the ICE complaint (will do that when I have more time and aren’t so worked up).
    Guess I may end up signing the agreement at next meeting but definitely not the waiver.
    No problem being refunded travel
    Wasn’t any fruit and I never did find the jacuzzi.

    • Jack Cade says:

      Sounds like it went well, all things considered. I signed the ‘agreement’ after reading it 3 or 4 times, looking for a catch but it all seemed like standard boilerplate and I have a strong feeling that not signing it constitutes being ‘uncooperative’ and can probably raise ‘sanction doubts’. It’s the Data Protection waiver that’s the crux. Without that, your commodity value to the pimps is near zero and that means that they’ll rapidly decide you’re not worth any effort or resources, the best you can hope for on a 2-year program. That’s all I ask from the cunts: to leave me the fuck alone.

      Oh, and re: the money advice thing? I’m guessing that it’s a service provided by a subsidiary of A4E and they charge for it = result for Emma fucking Harrison. Follow the money, d00d, follow the money…

  4. Mr No says:

    Hey Jack. And all.

    Clicked through from a link you posted. Thought I would say hello.

    And… Reading the above posts from @gissajob and yourself posed me to ask myself what this ‘agreement’ form you examined and signed consists of exactly.
    I’m assuming this is NOT what is referred to as your ‘Action plan’, Can you clarify?

    Because you only really are going to be planning your future actions over time. Possibly?
    One wouldn’t have thought that an action plan could necessarily be agreed and signed on the first (or even second) appointment. Although they might like that very much indeed. And probably do bamboozle many into swift ‘agreements’. You have to agree the actions on the action plan. Or get sanctioned for not agreeing? Could happen. Hmmm?
    Hence my wondering what ‘agreement’ means in your above context,

    I’m awaiting my first appointment. I have no intention of signing the data waiver. Didn’t on FND, wont be now. I will only sign an action plan when I am satisfied it is reasonable and doesn’t overstep any perceived authority they think the legislation gives them.

    I think it’s basically more of the same previous programme, Useless and coercive. And a scam.
    And more sociopathic advisers just ‘doing their job’. As i’ve said before, there are some decent ones on that side of the desk, but over time they probably drive them out and/or they themselves realise that the industry is a joke. In fact I know some do.


  5. Jack Cade says:

    Welcome, @Mr No,

    The document I signed (and the only one I’ve signed to date) was two A4 sheets set out in the form of ‘Your responsibilities; and ‘Our responsibilities’.

    It was just a repeat of what was already published in one of the ‘welcome’ brochures I got from them.

    Stuff like: ‘ You will make every effort to keep appointments made. If you are unable to do so, please contact your advisor in advance and …blahblahblah…’, ‘You are expected to treat the staff with courtesy etc etc’ ‘You agree not to consume alcohol on the premises or to attend your appointments when intoxicated…etc etc’.

    That sort of thing.

    Their side of the agreement was much the same thing. As I said, I read it slowly three times just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. it was just pro forma boilerplate.

    It was certainly not a ‘plan of action’ nor has there been any talk of one (although my welcome brochure said that the adviser and I would draw one up on the first appointment),

    So far, in two appointments, we haven’t really accomplished much at all (from the pimps point of view, anyway).

    This is, in large part, due to the Cade Work Program Nullification Strategy®, which includes ‘time-wasting’ as a major component.

    You see, knowing that they’re already struggling with their workload and are getting more referrals than they can handle, more time wasted means less time to try and fuck me over.

    It works like this: I’ve always been an easy fellow to talk to; I don’t know why this is but people generally find me simpatico and, with just a little nudge from me, will happily gas away about themselves for the length of the appointment. I’m sure you’ve noticed that most people like nothing better than talking about themselves.

    All it takes are a few deftly served questions, framed in a sympathetic manner, such as: am I imagining it or are you a bit understaffed here (I’d already heard the staff complaining about having to do duty at reception and see clients)?

    Before you know it, the Work Program is forgotten as they happily unburden themselves of their complaints, woes and resentments.

    This actually serves three useful purposes: 1. You gather lots of useful intel about the inner workings of the pimps and the office politics at your ‘supplier’; 2. It wastes your allotted appointment time; 3. You become, in the advisers mind, a ‘good guy’, someone they can talk to and from whom they get sympathy and understanding.

    This means that they need little prompting the next time. Usually, all it takes is a ‘concerned’ look and a ‘how are you? You look a bit knackered, mate.’ This is enough to open the floodgates. Before you know it, the phone’s rung and some other poor sap is waiting to be seen. Mission accomplished.

    This has worked so successfully in the past, that I got the impression that my adviser at, for example, TNG, really looked forward to my visits.

    I’d come in, he’d get me a tea or coffee and he’s treat me like a good mate; complaining about the company; about his fellow pimps; about his clients; about his wife/girlfriend, show me his holiday snaps, talk about how unsatisfied he was at TNG and what did I think of this plan or that plan (for him, not me), how hard it was to quit smoking (I think he liked the fact that I’d never even tried; we’d step outside for fag-breaks together, mainly, I think, because he didn’t want to lose the thread of the conversation) etc etc.

    I mentioned above that I sneaked a peak at my advisers computer info and discovered that he has 106 clients. That means he can allot each client, what, 20 minutes, tops?

    At the rate I’m being seen (1 appointment every 4 weeks) this works out to an hour with the pimps every 3 months; 4 hours a year; 8 hours over 2 years.

    If I get the pimp to spend all that time gassing to me about his personal life and problems, all the work program will mean to me is 4 hours a year of encouraging a poverty pimp to run his mouth while I make sympathetic noises and nod encouragingly.

    So much for the Work Program. Ali used a similar strategy in boxing: it’s called ‘rope-a-dope’; you just let the dope knock himself out.

    PS: I, along with most people, have come to the conclusion that the most important thing in the fightback is to NOT SIGN the Data Protection Act waiver. All follows on from that.

    Sorry to go on at such length but I’m just trying to illustrate how much of this whole racket is a game. Like any game, there are winning strategies or, at least, strategies that maintain the status quo: they don’t fuck you over and you don’t fuck them over.

    My strategy has been honed after experiencing a few of these pricks: Working Links, Reed and TNG. The Work Program is, as you’ve surmised, more of the same. A few small changes but it’s basically the same old same old.

    But the pimps are dinosaurs: slow, lumbering, clumsy and stupid as hell. We, on the other hand, are fast, smart, nimble and angry.

    They don’t stand a chance.

    • gissajob says:

      Hi Mr. No,
      The agreement is not the action plan – didn’t get round to that at my first appointment. This is logical since the first appointment is supposedly to determine the level and kind of “support” required and hence who the “advisor” will be. The agreement is, as Jack said, fairly boilerplate stuff. However some of it provoked the pedant in me. For instance the agreement is saying that I have to agree now that at some time in the future I will agree to an action plan. Now I don’t see how I can agree now to agree at some fututre date, to something (about which I know nothing at present). The argument was too complicated for the girl who was trying to get signatures on the forms and she wasted no time in kicking me upstairs to be dealt with by the Team Leader. Now I already had an appointment with said Team Leader to discuss a written complaint I had made and he never got round to asking me to sign the agreement again. Hence it remains unsigned. If I am asked again to sign I will probably do so “under protest”. The important thing is not to sign the waiver. The Team leader reminded me of a used car salesman – techniques and falsehoods much the same.
      Now @Jack. We should be wary of complacency regarding the WP. It may very well start off by not being too much of an imposition but it is false logic to extrapolate from the first few appointments and deduce it will always be thus. It won’t. Every pimp’s plans include an escalating series of measures against those who aren’t fortunate enough to find work. As time goes by we are moved from one stage to the next – until we end up with brooms in our hands sweeping the streets for “work experience”. Just have a look at the tender docs for what they have in store.

      For example this from the Boycott Workfare people:
      * We discovered Work Programme provider Ingeus (owned by city financiers
      Deloitte) are doing six month compulsory work placements:

    • This Way to the Showers says:

      And if you do sign something, say the firelog or for travel expenses – DO NOT SIGN IT! – just initial it or make some sort of random “mark”. Providers (A4e) are known for forging clients signatures!

  6. Jack Cade says:

    @gissajob – “…it is false logic to extrapolate from the first few appointments and deduce it will always be thus.”

    That’s unarguable but what I’m counting on and what makes more sense is that they’ll simply ignore anyone who they come to see as either A. unemployable or B. a non-profit making commodity. I’m sure it differs from pimp to pimp, but mine gives me the distinct impression that they’re only going to invest their energy, limited manpower and scant resources in those they can hustle into any old shite job and do it quickly.

    My pimp, being a charity, doesn’t have (I’m making an educated guess here) the kind of resources to see them through a lean patch that pimps like Reed and A4e do, but more to the point, all of the pimps have to hit the mandated ‘targets’ or they lose the contracts and the investment they’ve already plowed into their pimping venture.

    So the clock’s ticking and they’re going to have to devote all their energies to the people (a majority, I imagine) who have signed the waiver and don’t ask awkward questions that put them on the spot and who don’t flatly state that they won’t apply for any ‘zero-hours’ contracts.

    Given how little time they now have to devote to each client and the pressing need to get the shekels rolling in, I can’t see them giving me a hard time: not when there are so many low-hanging fruit and more coming in all the time .

    And what’s the point of sending a non-signer on a 4-week ‘work experience’? For the pimps to claim it as an ‘outcome’ (and trigger a payment) they have to be able to contact the company and exchange your data with them…and that they can’t do with people who’ve refused to sign the waiver.

    The Tory cuts are only now starting to kick in; there are going to be a lot more unemployed competing for the same jobs; all of them ‘job ready’; all of them with ‘good’ CVs showing work until very recently and all of them likely to go along with whatever’s proposed and sign whatever’s put in front of them, including the waiver

    I don’t think I’m being overly optimistic when I say that I’m counting on the pimps venality.

    Still, I stay on my toes and am ready to change tactics at a moments notice.

    Thanks for the Ingeus link, by the way. It makes for grim reading. But I note that this ‘workin’ on a chain gang, going down down down’ only kicks in after you’ve been on the program for a year. With any luck, all these cunts will have lost their contracts by then.

  7. gissajob says:

    Points taken.
    This particular fruit will devote its efforts to climbing the tree.

  8. Jack Cade says:

    They say the view’s spectacular

  9. agnes fairchilds says:

    Now I think I’ve picked up part of the script to lull you into believing it’s all good.

    Advisor 1: I don’t need to do this job, I have 2 other business’, I do this job cos I love it (1st and only meeting)
    Advisor 2: If I didn’t need to pay my bills, I’d still come in and do this job for nothing (1st meeting).

    They are not sales reps, they are not motivated by the profit margin or maintaining their own employment, they do it only for the love of helping those they feel are less fortunate than themselves. They are needed because we are needy. Hallelujah Brothers and Sisters, we have been guided to the light, so stop your bloody cynicism and sign your data protection waivers.

    Here endeth the one and only lesson of the truly indoctrinated.

    Did you know that if you right click on endeth to check why it underlines as a spelling error, it’s alternative suggestion is vendetta.

    • wishface says:

      Of course these advisers can do what they like. if they want to work for unemployment poverty pimps for nothing that’s their lookout, but dont drag us down. Proselytising helps noone.

  10. Jack Cade says:

    I wonder if these advisers ‘volunteered’ in the same way that I ‘volunteered’ for the Work Program? Maybe they’re white-collar criminals doing their community service. Nothing would surprise me about this whole rancid set-up…

  11. T says:

    Haha excellent work, Jack! I’ve actually been getting on reasonably well with one of the advisers at my pimp (Avanta) and arranging some help that might actually benefit ME instead of the pimp (help with self-employment)…Last week though, another “adviser” I’ve only seen once (and who tried to bludgeon me into going on a “placement” which was quickly refused) phoned me and left a voicemail accusing me of missing an appointment and informed me that she was going to “start sanction paperwork” in the snottiest, haughtiest tone I’ve heard so far.

    The fun and games may have to start soon I think if this is the way they want to play it (I’m in a “vulnerable” group due to chronic illness so their “sanction” bullshit doesn’t particularly frighten me anyway).

    Keep up the good work!


  12. katesjc6189 says:

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