This cartoon by Mac from The Daily Mail connects two news stories: the UK government's announcement that circuses are to be banned from using wild animals for performances, and the same government's controversial back-to-work schemes. The Department for Work and Pensions says the schemes are aimed at getting unemployed people back to work, but critics have dubbed the programmes as "Workfare", likening them to unpaid labour, and claiming that they are forcing people to work for their benefits. Read more >>
A government official is interviewing the now unemployed elephant for a place on the back-to-work scheme. He asks the elephant, "Are you any good at stacking shelves?" (Shelf-stacking—i.e., putting goods on shelves—at supermarkets such as Tesco is widely considered to be one of the most unskilled jobs going, and often comes up in any discussion of the usefulness of such schemes.) The joke is that of course the elephant is no good at stacking shelves, but that's the only work available.
A scheme (pronounced 'skeem') is a plan or arrangement involving many people which is made by a government or other organization.
Two good subjects for class discussion or debate here:
1. Should circuses be banned from using animals?
2. Should unemployed people (jobseekers) be compelled to do unpaid work in return for benefits?
• Laws to ban wild animals being used for circus performances (The Guardian)
• Wild animals in circuses WILL be banned after ministers cave in to demands to launch crackdown (Mail Online)
• Work experience scheme in disarray as Tesco and other retailers change tack (The Guardian)
• Government's work experience: what are the schemes, and do they work? (The Guardian)