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'We're not above shelf stacking', say geologists

The Geological Society of London is surprised by Iain Duncan Smith’s comments, made yesterday in response to Cait Reilly’s recent legal victory over the government’s back to work scheme.

Mr Duncan Smith asked, in reference to the unpaid work placement at Poundland, ‘The next time they go into their supermarket, they should ask themselves this simple question, when they can’t find the food they want on the shelves - who is more important – the geologist, or the person who stacked the shelves?'

‘It’s an unhelpful way to have framed the argument’ says Professor Alan Lord, the Geological Society’s Secretary for Foreign and External Affairs. ‘Geologists are a vital part of that supply chain - mining the minerals essential for fertilizers, obtaining metal ores, discovering the fuel which transports produce to the store, and engineering our transport infrastructure.’

‘Without geologists, there would be no way to supply supermarkets with produce, no transport for customers or staff – no shelves, in fact.’

‘We would be surprised if Mr Duncan Smith considered geology graduates anything less than equally vital to the economy as those who stack supermarket shelves.’

In response to Mr Duncan Smith’s suggestion that ‘there is a group of people out there who think they’re too good for this kind of stuff’, Professor Lord says ‘many geologists spend a lot of time in challenging conditions – on oil rigs in the North Sea, in trenches and mines, conducting field work in all weathers.

We certainly do not consider ourselves above shelf stacking.’