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First Steps amounts to ‘indentured servitude’ – Ó Snodaigh

5 March, 2015 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin TD and Spokesperson for Social Protection Aengus Ó Snodaigh in questioning Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton asked why the government was persisting in their pursuit of regressive measures such as First Steps which is a mandatory equivalent of the failed JobBridge scheme. A scheme he says is rife with the risk of exploitation of young workers.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“Up until now, the Minister for Social Protection and her Department have consistently placed great emphasis on the voluntary status of participation on JobBridge.  They have described this voluntary status as a safeguard against the abuse of interns on that scheme.”

“The new First Steps scheme is basically a reincarnation of JobBridge for particularly disadvantaged young people. The 2013 Indecon Report showed us that 3% of employers admitted that they used JobBridge to replace existing employment. That’s 494 companies admitting to this.29% said they would create employment if JobBridge did not exist. JobBridge is displacing jobs and now the government wants to replicate this scheme again with less protection for interns.  I would have very serious concerns over the decision to make the new scheme mandatory.”

“A Department briefing note I have obtained basically states that the primary control measure against exploitation of the intern is the voluntary nature of the JobBridge scheme. Now that participation in First Steps is mandatory, have the Department examined this issue, or are we consigning this young people to indentured servitude?” 

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