Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

Blaming Unemployed people for Unemployment

August 29th, 2010 · 6 Comments · Equality, Irish Politics, Recession

Today’s announcement of the Government’s intention to introduce Work for Dole/Mutual Obligation is more than a kite that is being flown.

This evening’s RTE news showed examples of where people who participate in such a scheme may work including cleaning mountain walkways, community childcare, care of the elderly. A pilot scheme of 10,000 places is to be announced next month. No mention of training for participants or support for groups who ’employ’ participants, who more than likely have had other funding cut over the past few years. Previous employment and training initiatives required Unions and Employers to pass schemes as not displacing or replacing jobs in local economies. This is going to be more difficult to arrange in the current climate due to the professionalisation of community services and the huge job losses there have been in this sector.

It won’t be long now till we see local TD’s clamoring to get places for a community sector which has already been decimated by government cutbacks. Suddenly the Government will say that they want to help communities as well as ensure that people in receipt of benefits ‘truly want to work’.

This scheme as proposed is not much different from the entitlements for Community Employment except that it will be people on jobseekers benefit who will be entitled/forced to apply and not those who are disabled or lone parents. Community Employment has seen cuts in numbers and cuts in the supports/costs towards projects who employ people on CE. Progression on CE is not an immediate occurance either and the lack of supports for full employment in community sector hinders progression further. This new deal sounds like CE on the cheap – there is no mention of accredited training for those involved either?

A lot of emphasis will be placed by Minister O’Cuiv and supporters on the notion that this will stop people claiming unemployment benefits and be cost neutral. It will be followed by a lot of IBEC/ISME/SFA spin about the workshy etc. However there are over 450,000 people unemployed, that’s a lot of ‘shy’ people and very few of these will be forced into these schemes or voluntarily take up places. The scheme does not look at the causes of unemployment or propose solutions. It’s a form of labelling a sector of society.

I’m thinking out some of the very glaring problems with this new programme – we’ve been here before with Social Employment Schemes in the 1980’s and Community Employment from 1990’s until the present. I’m sure readers can add to this list.

– The employment of people on some sort of work for benefit programme displaces other jobs despite the ‘approval’ of unions.
– Reduces the numbers on the ‘live register’ thus looking good for the government.
– Tells people in local communities in receipt of services from those on such a scheme that they are not important enough to receive support from properly paid, qualified, motivated and trained staff – eg. services for older people, people with disabilities and children.
– supporting unemployed people back into work requires resources, experienced supervisors, care, counselling, garda clearance, follow up etc. This may be possible if this new plan is part of existing services, but I would expect community organisations who are well experienced (worn out) in employment schemes to point out the current inadequacies and require more support.

This is not an employment creation scheme and should not been seen as such, it’s being introduced by the Minister for Social Protection – actually can anyone point me to the government’s employment strategy? The IDA appears to be in a mess.

So there’s this weeks kite launched sky wards, I expect much debate and little joined up thinking from those proposing it.



6 Comments so far