Last month the Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection with Special Responsibility for Activation (Minister of Long Names and Misery); Kevin Humphreys wrote a wonderful piece of fiction in the Irish Independent which extolled the supposed virtues of the JobBridge scheme. While there are too many inaccuracies in his article to correct here e.g. ‘JobBridge is a voluntary scheme’ which was proved incorrect by Unite months ago, one line is particular insulting:
‘in developing JobBridge, great care was taken to set conditions which would limit the ability of employers to exploit the scheme.’
UY-DAG members as part of the #WorkMustPay campaign have been trawling through JobBridge adverts for weeks and one aspect that has become abundantly clear is that the scheme is essentially unmonitored by the Department and employers can chance what they like. We’ll run through a few examples to ram this point home.
Firstly, there appears to be no block on employers using JobBridge even if they have a known record of exploitation. Take for instance ‘Howth Railway Refreshment Rooms Ltd’ who in 2005 were fined €6,750 for nine breaches of legislation regarding the employment of minors where in one case it was found that a 15 year old was made to work an 11 hour shift, 4 hours over the legal maximum. Regardless of this; today (09/12/14) the company involved were allowed to advertise for three JobBridge internships; two as social media positions and one as a graphic designer. If you were going to volunteer at a homeless charity you’d wait 3 months for your Garda vetting but if you’re an employer with a record of exploiting under-age workers then you can hire 3 unpaid interns for 9 months, no bother.
Secondly, in carry-on worthy of daft.ie the employer does not even have to provide the name of business they are recruiting for or the address of the premises where the intern will be ‘working’. Often fake gmail accounts are created which use the name of the JobBridge position with ‘Dublin’ tacked on at the end and the prospective intern has to contact an anonymous source to enquire about the position. This is extremely problematic for a whole range of reasons, particularly regarding the safety of the unemployed person involved, a recent example of this practice can be found here for a ‘Commis Chef’ position in Dublin south central.
Joan Burton in all her wisdom recently decreed that a JobBridge position as a school cleaner was not a suitable use of the scheme and yet even a brief tour through the adverts online will show you that this is hardly the worst of it. In Athy at the moment, a garage is looking for a ‘fuel sales person‘ where the ‘intern must be able to lift 40kg bags of coal and full containers of gas safely’ while still managing to ‘have a nice friendly manner as they will be face to face with customers’. As well as this, there are a whole range of ‘Car Valet‘ JobBridge positions across the country so apparently Joan thinks cleaning cars is grand.
This ‘recovery’ is being built on the exploitation of the unemployed.
We would encourage you to follow the #WorkMustPay twitter account to inform yourselves about the exploitation that occurs on a daily basis in the JobBridge scheme.