March 20th: Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly has today written to Social Protection Minister Joan Burton asking her to withdraw the requirement for mandatory participation in the JobBridge and Gateway programmes. The letter is available for download here.
Pointing out that the sanctions for failing to participate in the scheme are “unjustified and onerous”, Mr Kelly’s letter notes that the introduction of compulsion into the Youth Guarantee “can only undermine its effectiveness and appeal, especially where young people may be forced into unsuitable positions or programmes that fail to provide effective training”.
The letter also notes that compulsory job placement programmes will displace work paid at market wages, and that the distortion created by such programmes will have a negative impact on the economy and public finances. It points out that a participant “may well be caught in a situation where they are forced to do the same work as an employed staff member, but for free”.
Unite argues that mandatory programmes are unnecessary, pointing out that, after suffering one of the highest levels of youth unemployment in Europe during the early 1990s, the country actually had one of the highest levels of employment among young people a decade later: “The reason for this is fairly straightforward – an increasing number of jobs became available”.
Commenting, Jimmy Kelly said: “The unemployed of all ages do not need workfare – they need real jobs. Compulsory employment schemes treat the unemployed as the problem – whereas the problem is that there are 28 jobseekers for every vacancy”, Mr Kelly pointed out.