Reluctant gardener appeals ‘forced labour’ rule

An unemployed man who refused to do menial labour as part of a retraining exercise has gone to court to appeal against what he says is ‘forced labour’, the NRC reports.

Two years ago Bennie Beck was ordered to chose between two sorts of work – weeding or packing boxes – as part of a council scheme to help him back into work. He refused and officials cut his unemployment benefits in response.
In the court case that followed, Beck accused the council of forcing him to work. That court ruled that Beck was within his rights to refuse the jobs but said there was no question that he was being subjected to forced labour.
Even though Arnhem city council was ordered to restore his benefits, Beck decided to appeal. ‘It is a matter of principle,’ he told the paper.
The council says Beck was not being forced to do a specific job. ‘It is about learning to come to work on time and work in a team,’ a spokesman told the NRC.
The court is due to report in six weeks time.

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