The introduction of a compulsory scheme in the Republic which seeks to force unemployed people to work for 19.5 hours for their dole money and an extra €20 has been condemned by unions and political activists.
Under the scheme workers who have been unemployed for more than 24 months “can be selected at random” to work for local authorities for up to 22 months. If they refuse to participate they may have their benefits cut.
Unite Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, wrote to Social Protection Minister, Joan Burton, in late March asking her to withdraw the requirement for mandatory participation in the Gateway and similar JobBridge programme – where people may be forced to work in the private sector.
The letter states that compulsory job placement programmes will displace work paid at market wages, and that the distortion created by such programmes will have a negative impact on the economy and public finances. It points out that a participant “may well be caught in a situation where they are forced to do the same work as an employed staff member, but for free”.
Hundreds of SIPTU Council workers protested against the Gateway scheme outside South Dublin County Council on 13th March.
“We’re here to fight for our jobs but also to give a voice to the unemployed”, said SIPTU shop steward John Geoghegan.