MP calls for reinstatement of jobs adviser sacked after speaking out about union concerns over help for the unemployed

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An MP has written to employment minister Chris Grayling to call for the reinstatement of a well-respected jobs adviser who was sacked by a government contractor after speaking out about union concerns over help for the unemployed.

John McDonnell MP has taken up the case of John Brookes on behalf of the Public and Commercial Services union.

The PCS rep from Teesside, who is known and respected in the region for his work with the unemployed, was dismissed by contractor Triage after speaking to the media about how help for people out of work would suffer as a result of cuts.

Triage took over contracts in the north east last year when they were re-let under the government’s new ‘work programme’.

John, who had worked in this field for 36 years with an unblemished record, will be joined by representatives of the union outside the Triage offices in Middlesbrough today as the campaign for his reinstatement steps up.

The union has serious concerns about the work programme and the government’s wider plans to change the welfare system, and says ministers should be creating jobs and opportunities, not throwing more people out of work and cutting welfare entitlements.

Mr McDonnell’s letter states: “Whilst DWP is not the employer in this matter, as the contract awarding body, government clearly has a responsibility in how taxpayers’ money is spent and an interest in ensuring that those delivering the work programme act with probity and fairness.  This dedicated public servant’s only crime has been to bring into the public domain legitimate concerns about this important government scheme.”

Last week official figures showed unemployment rose again to 2.68 million in the three months to November.

The current unemployment rate of 8.4% is the highest since January 1996. The number of young people without a job rose to 1.043 million, meaning 22% of 16-24 year-olds are out of work.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Ministers should be creating jobs instead of cutting them, and investing in our communities instead of vilifying those who find themselves out of work.

“We do not believe the work programme is a serious attempt to tackle unemployment, we think it is a cynical ploy to force people into menial jobs and work experience, with no promise of stable employment at the end.

“People like John Brookes with years of dedicated public service and knowledge, should be praised, not sacked, for speaking out about our genuine concerns about the treatment of those out of work. We are calling for his immediate reinstatement.”E


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