Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
The policies of Iain Duncan Smith's Department for Work and Pensions have been branded 'exploitative' by an engineer Reuters

A jobless electrical engineer angry about government "slave labour" policies is staging a one-man protest at being ordered to work for nothing.

John McArthur says he is subsisting on cut-price tins of spaghetti in a home without heating, after his benefits were axed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in a dispute.

He is mounting a daily protest with placards outside a Scottish firm's offices after refusing to work there for free for 26 weeks, as part of the government's Community Work Placement (CWP) scheme.

McArthur, 59, landed in hot water with Iain Duncan Smith's DWP for refusing on principle to do the CWP at LAMH Recycle in Motherwell, after he previously was paid for doing the same job there.

McArthur branded CWP's "entirely exploitative" and claimed they were at the "expense of poor people who've got absolutely no choice".

Speaking to the Motherwell Times, he said: "It's essentially slave labour which bypasses the minimum wage regulations."

His one-man protest has garnered only one objection in the local community, he claimed. But it has left him living on a monthly income of just over £100.

LAMH Recycle defended its practices and insisted the company helped unemployed into work. It told the Guardian that 16 of its staff worked for nothing. A spokesman said McArthur's case had been "misrepresented."

In a statement, the DWP said: "Community Work Placements help long-term unemployed people to gain work experience which increases their confidence, helps them to gain vital skills and crucially, improves their chances of getting a job.

"These placements do not replace existing roles," it told The Independent.