Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh is calling on the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton to clarify if her department is cold-calling employers to try and get advertised jobs converted to JobBridge internships.
“I have been contacted by the National One Parent Family Network who tell me that at least two companies where their members work were cold-called by individuals on behalf of the Department of Social Protection on foot of jobs advertised, asking if they would convert them into JobBridge internships.
“Michelle Frawley, Secretary of the Network, told me that the members were shocked by the practice and that a government Department would be acting in such an underhand manner when what the government should be doing is supporting the growth of real jobs in our economy.
“I understand the companies in question are in Galway and in the South East, so this would appear to be a national approach. What is not clear is whether this is being done by staff in the department, or if it is being outsourced to a private company.
“The jobs in question had been advertised on the internet and it would appear that the people involved have been trawling websites, cold-calling the companies and inviting them to turn the real jobs into internships under JobBridge. It is hard to see what benefit the state would gain from such a practice.
“Sinn Féin has been very critical of the JobBridge scheme since it was initiated. We believe that it encourages employers to put off creating real jobs in the economy. If the new allegations are found to be true then that is taking the whole thing a step further and is totally unacceptable and must be stopped.
“It would be incredible if this is happening under the watch of two Labour Ministers, the Tánaiste herself and the newly appointed Junior Minister, Kevin Humphreys, who has specific responsibilities in the area of job activation.
“They need to give a full and frank account of how the department is going about its business in this regard and ensure this underhand practice, if substantiated, is stamped out immediately.”