Tuesday, 5 February 2019
JobPath Programme: Motion [Private Members]
JobPath was described today as short-term, coercive and ruthless by several academics from Waterford Institute of Technology. A submission was presented to Deputy Brady by over 29 community-based groups who run the community employment scheme. They have a similar view of the scheme. People who use the system and who use other systems have a view of JobPath that is the polar opposite of the Government view. The Government likes to pretend that JobPath was a success when in fact it was a failure. The Government likes to pretend that people have had a good experience. Some may have had a good experience but many people have not had a good experience. In fact, many people who have come to me who have been through the JobPath programme have used words such as "coercive" and say they have been threatened and that they have had a bad experience with the process.
It is clear - I make no bones in saying it - that the Fine Gael Party has no interest in workers' rights. Thus, it is no surprise that those in Fine Gael continually pretend that this is a fantastic scheme while ignoring the labour activation schemes that actually work. The reason the Minister likes to put this up as a scheme that works, the reason she claims it is such a fantastic scheme, is because it represents the privatisation of labour activation schemes. Two private companies get €150 million in taxpayers' money to roll out schemes that many are uncomfortable with and in respect of which many people have had a bad experience.
Certain facts had to be dragged out of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection at the Committee of Public Accounts. Deputy Brady and others have been calling for these figures year in, year out. He has sought details on the actual cost, what these companies get and how much the costs are per individual. After a great deal of cajoling and work we got the figures at the Committee of Public Accounts from the Secretary General of the Department. The cost is a total of €3,718 per job seeker. The Minister can smile if she likes but I was at the Committee of Public Accounts and I asked the questions. We were stonewalled but eventually we got the answers. Two private companies receive €150 million. This is despite the fact that only 7% of JobPath clients were still in employment after 12 months. Yet, the Minister claims that it is a fantastic success. These figures relate to a time when unemployment was falling in any event. Yet, we give €150 million to two private companies to roll out a programme that people have serious concerns with.
I commend the motion to the Minister. The Minister should take her head from out of the clouds and recognise that there are major problems with this scheme. I call on the Minister to listen to the people we listen to on a daily basis and take on board what is in this motion. For once, Fine Gael should accept that this is wrong and that it is not good for workers' rights.