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"Work Experience Scheme" move by big business exposes exploitative scheme - McCann

22 February, 2012 - by Fra McCann

Sinn Féin MLA and member of the Social Development Committee, Fra McCann has stated that the decision by Sainsbury's, Waterstonesand Matalan to withdraw their support to the Work Experience Scheme is a step in the right direction and other business should follow this lead.

Speaking today Mr McCann said:

“The decision by these high street brand names sends a clear message to those who are forcing young people into stores to work for nothing.

“The excuse behind this policy is that it allows young people to gain job experience. The truth of the matter is that young people are pushed into the most menial of jobs, to gain experience for jobs that do not exist. Beyond this the young people are expected to pay the costs of travel and food out of their already megre benefit payments.

“Many people believe this policy amounts to nothing more than slave labour and in the end allows those who participate to delay bringing on new employees who would be paid at the minimum wage with people who work for nothing. I have also been informed that there may be a practice where some employers are laying off staff and gaining free labour from this scheme.

“We in Sinn Féin have raised this matter at the social development committee and will further pursue it at the Employment and Learning Committee.

“There is no doubt we are in exceptionally hard time in terms of employment. Our efforts should be going towards establishing meaningful schemes that are beneficial to those who are seeking employment, not schemes that can be exploited and leave job seekers demoralized.

“I will be contacting the Sainsbury's, Waterstones and Matalan offices in the north to ensure that they are following the lead set be their parent companies in England. I will also be writing to other stores to ask that they withdraw from these demeaning and fruitless contracts.”

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