According to the media reports, which read suspiciously like they have come via the Beehive, the Welfare Working Group is proposing that up to 300,000 beneficiaries should be forced to look for work.
In other words, if the Government accepts the conclusions of the working group,it will be demanding that solo mothers, the sick, the handicapped and the mentally unwell go and find jobs at a time when the official unemployment rate is 6.8 percent. The real rate is a lot higher
As Gordon Campbell wrote recently:
This crackdown will come at a time when the failure of the government to keep its side of the social compact is evident. In December, unemployment reached 158,000, just shy of the 163,000 peak reached at the height of the global recession. Perhaps the people in real need of tougher work tests are the Ministers seated around the Cabinet table.
The Government itself is contributing to the rising unemployment figures. On Wednesday the Minister of Finance will outline changes in the state sector that will lead to further job losses. This is the same Minister of Finance who just recently admitted that the economy could have gone into recession again - although many if us are saying that, for most of us , the economy has never actually come out of recession. I can't say that I've noticed any improvement in my material conditions.
Of course these welfare 'reforms' are all about making the working class pay the heavy price of an economic crisis it is not responsible for.
While the Government was more than eager to fund tax cuts for the wealthy (John Key got a nice $1000 tax break) it is slashing Government spending from $1.1 billion to a derisory $800 million - and most of the savings will come from welfare. health and education.
And who is going to defend the interests of some of the most vulnerable people in society?
If we had a trade union leadership that was prepared to stand up and be counted then beneficiaries could look to the CTU for help.
But the CTU won't fight.
CTU boss Helen Kelly will attack the report in a press release. She might even appear on television. The PSA national secretary, Brenda Pilot, will she say is 'concerned' about the implications.
But there will be no campaign of militancy. There will be no protests on the street and certainly no strike action.
It will be yet another betrayal in a long line of betrayals.