Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described the Gateway Scheme as an attempt to disguise the ugly face of austerity. He also argued that the Government has not learned anything from similar schemes already in place.
Speaking in the Dáil tonight, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“One of the main purposes of austerity from the point of view of those who impose it is to lower people’s expectations.
“Let people get used to low pay, long hours and poor working conditions because they cannot expect any better.
“A community development activist in my home County of Monaghan has already done a study on Gateway and similar schemes. He points out that this State is a party to the Forced Labour Convention of 1930 and thus “undertakes to suppress the use of forced labour or compulsory labour in all its forms”. The European Convention on Human Rights states that “no-one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour”.
“What has the Government learned from the other schemes already in place? Nothing. A participant in Job Bridge, in a local authority, told the surveyor, that the €50 top-up they receive is not adequate to cover work-related costs. They stated: “The payment does not cover my costs fully, between travel, childcare, clothing and food, I find that I am significantly worse off financially, since starting the internship.”
“And the Gateway top-up is even smaller.
“Other participants in JobBridge tell of feeling isolated and being resented by the permanent staff who, quite understandably, do not regard them as real employees and not part of the team. The potential for this workplace division and demoralisation is even greater in the Gateway scheme.
“This cheap labour scheme is abhorrent. It has been devised to disguise the true level of unemployment, to mask the ugly face of austerity and to keep up the pretence that this Government is providing training and education and real pathways to work. It must be rejected.”