Unions must resist jobbridge

Donal Mac Fhearraigh

Last June, to great fanfare, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton launched the JobBridge internship programme. She claimed that she ‘firmly believed’ that many employers would offer jobs to their interns after they completed their internship.

The scheme creates six or nine month internships for people currently unemployed, for which they receive €50 per week on top of the dole.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny declared the programme to be a ‘flagship commitment’ of the Government’s Job Initiative.

The reality is completely different. Of the 4,670 participants only 797 interns have gone into employment with either their host company or another company.
The JobBridge scheme is merely a means for the Government to reduce the numbers on the Live Register without creating any actual jobs.

The JobBridge programme is effectively a massive subsidy for private companies, providing them with free labour at a direct cost of €50 per week to the State.

When you take into account the hidden cost in continued social welfare payments to people who are working, and the loss in tax revenue, which would be received if these people were actually being paid properly for the work they do, the real cost is much higher.

It effectively reduces the minimum wage to €238 per week (€188 + €50). Many interns report that it actually costs them more than the extra €50 per week to do their internship, due to transport costs and the cost of lunches, work clothes etc.

Trade unions should be leading the fight against this attack on the minimum wage and the victimisation of unemployed workers.

May 18, 2012 - 14:29