During Minister’s Questions today, People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, challenged Minister for Social Protection, that the JobBridge Scheme is being abused by private companies.
In February, Oxygen, who run the recycling plant in Ballyogan on behalf of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council took on a number of staff via the JobBridge scheme. These staff were trained by workers who then lost their jobs.
JobBridge is the government’s National Internship Scheme that is intended to provide work experience for those on Social Welfare payments as a way to get people back to work.
The intern receives €50 from the state on top of their SW payment and the “host company” is obliged to train and upskill the intern but is not liable to pay any money to the intern.
The rules for Job Bridge state clearly that:
- The host organisation currently may not have vacancies in the area of activity in which the internship is offered.
- The internship will not be provided to displace an employee. The scheme administrator reserves the right to review cases where it is reported that this is the case.
On 31 March 4 workers lost their jobs at Ballyogan Depot. These workers were employed by A&S Finnegan, a sub-contractor for Oxygen.
These workers had spent the previous weeks training a number of Job Bridge “interns”. Three of these interns are now doing the jobs of these previously employed workers.
Richard Boyd Barrett TD, said: “It is an absolute scandal if it is the case that JobBridge scheme is being used by employers to displace other workers. When this scheme was announced, we raised the possibility that it was open to this kind of abuse and this story begs the question about how widespread this is.”
“What makes this story even worse is that Ballyogan Depot is owned by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. Oxygen have the contract to run this. It is utterly unacceptable that state contracts are being given to companies that are abusing a Social Protection scheme.
There is widespread anecdotal evidence that this abuse of JobBridge scheme is not an isolated incident. These companies should certainly be debarred from public contracts and it is possible that even criminal proceedings should be taken. There are also very serious questions to be asked of the government about their failure to prevent this kind of abuse and put in place proper monitoring of the scheme and severe penalties where abuses are taking place.”
Richard Lynch added: “I had been working in the office in Ballyogan since Christmas and now one of these JobBridge interns is doing my job. This costs the state an extra €50 per week!
I reported it to the department of Social Protection on 21st of March. Apparently they are still looking into it! How long does it take to see that the scheme is just being abused!
Brian Halpin said: “I was working in Ballyogan for 1 year and 11 months and I was only told on Wed 27 March that I would no longer be needed on Monday 1 April. Now there is an intern doing my job. This intern is being paid from Dept of Social Protection and I had to sign on too costing the state an extra €238 every week while Oxygen are laughing all the way to the bank.”