Gateway is state-sanctioned slave labour – Ó Snodaigh
Gateway is exploitative and punitive. It seeks to take advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our society by forcing them into twenty-two months of hard labour for a welfare top-up of €20 that can be eroded by tax.
Sinn Féin will use its Private Members time this week to table a motion which calls on the Government to abandon the Gateway Scheme and to instead adopt activation programmes that are based on the principle of equal pay for equal work.
The motion will be debated in the Dáil on the evenings of Tuesday and Wednesday.
Speaking from Dublin today, Sinn Fein Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh said:
“Gateway forces unemployed people to carry out work for local authorities through the threat of cuts and suspensions to welfare payments.
“Gateway is exploitative and punitive. It seeks to take advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our society by forcing them into twenty-two months of hard labour for a welfare top-up of €20 that can be eroded by tax.
“Gateway does not provide for brighter futures. It does not include training or education mechanisms and as such it does not enhance the employability of participants. This reality is sharpened by the fact that local authorities cannot provide sustainable employment opportunities due to the Public Sector recruitment embargo.
“Gateway is nothing more than state-sanctioned slave labour.
“It is product of a regressive mode of thinking which suggests that the unemployed are the problem, not unemployment.
“It dehumanises jobless citizens and in doing so it actually denies the root causes of the jobs crisis. Those causes persist due to Government policy.
“Much like other initiatives from the Department of Social Protection, such as JobBridge and TÚS, Gateway seeks to demonise the unemployed.
“The backward, right-wing mentality, at the heart of this Government’s social protection policy, was recently shown-up by Fine Gael TD Jim Daly when he said that Gateway would teach unemployed people ‘what it is like to get up in the morning’.
“The progressive, rights-centred alternative would be to adopt an activation programme that has training and education at its core and which genuinely seek to enhance the employability of participants.
These schemes should be about improving the future prospects of participants and not about producing ill-gotten cost-savings for a right-wing government in the here and now.
“Sinn Féin is calling on the Government to not only abandon the Gateway Scheme but also to abandon the mode of thinking that has produced a series of programmes which has ultimately led to the persecution of unemployed people in this state.”
· Please find the full text of Sinn Fein’s PMB motion below:
Fógra Tairisceana : Notice of Motion
GNÓ COMHALTAÍ PRÍOBHÁIDEACHA
“That Dáil Éireann:
when the Government came to power 55.1 per cent of those unemployed were long-term unemployed, after three years of this Government 61.4 per cent of those unemployed are now long-term unemployed; and
there has been a 25 per cent reduction in local authority staffing levels since 2011 and local authority services are therefore unable to provide adequate services across a range of areas, as evidenced by the recent delays in addressing damage caused by severe weather;
considers that the new Gateway scheme:
is a work-for-benefits scheme, also known as workfare or forced labour, on which participation is not voluntary;
entails 22 months of hard labour for a very small social welfare top-up of €20 that can be all but eroded by tax;
will not enhance the employability of participants, as there is no quality training involved and there is a recruitment embargo in place on local authorities;
punishes the unemployed for being unemployed;
copper fastens the under-staffing of essential local services; and
undermines existing pay, terms and conditions for staff across the local authority sector; and
calls on the Government to abandon the Gateway scheme and instead explore the introduction of an alternative activation programme based on a training-intensive Community Employment scheme type model for a local authority context or temporary work experience opportunities on the basis of equal pay for equal work done.” — Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Jonathan O'Brien, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald, Michael Colreavy, Seán Crowe, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Sandra McLellan, Brian Stanley, Peadar Tóibín.
[7 March, 2014]