Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Social Protection Aengus Ó Snodaigh T.D. has stated that the raisin d’etre of the Gateway scheme is to provide chronically underfunded local authorities with cheap general dogsbodies.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh was speaking during a debate on a Sinn Féin Private Members Business motion calling on the Government to abandon the scheme.
“This scheme was not designed with the needs of the long-term unemployed in mind. It was not designed to enhance the future employment prospects of the unemployed. The raison d’être of this scheme is to provide chronically underfunded local authorities with cheap general dogsbodies.
“Gateway involves no structured training and certainly no formal training beyond the absolute minimum Health and Safety course required by the Council’s insurance policies. Gateway has a budget for helmets and wellies but none for training.”
“It is a scheme of Forced Labour. The Labour Party prides itself on its links with the trade union movement and the trade union’s promotion of better pay and conditions but here’s a fact – the Gateway scheme breaches the C29 Forced Labour Convention which this state ratified in 1931.
“As always the Government have options. They do not have to introduce this punitive scheme of forced labour. Instead they could explore the alternatives. A good activation scheme is one that does not exploit or displace work. A good activation scheme is one that first and foremost offers meaningful training and experience to the participant. A good activation scheme enhances the future employment prospects of the participant. A good activation scheme allows jobseekers to apply to participate – in fact that’s a handy litmus test of the quality of a scheme – if it’s useful and genuinely leads to employment the unemployed will keep applying in droves.
“The government could look at extending the CE scheme to involve an appropriate structured training opportunity in a local authority context. Or the government could make short term work experience opportunities available to the long-term unemployed on the basis of equal pay for work done.”