Unemployment, Emigration & Forced Free Labour Schemes
More than any other statistic, the unemployment rate is the one which the government will use to try to convince us that the ‘recovery is real’ as Joan Burton keeps telling us.
The number of people on the Live Register has fallen for 32 months in a row, and the unemployment rate is now 10.1%, but to what extent does this point to an end to the unemployment crisis?
Minimal & incremental job creation
For each job vacancy there are 25 unemployed workers. On top of the official unemployment rate there is also a whole swath of workers who are under-employed, around 130,000 – these are people who want to work more hours than they currently get – when these are factored in the broad unemployment rate is actually 21.9%. This is the second highest rate of underemployment in the EU.
In the run up to the local and European elections in 2014 the government claimed that 5,000 jobs a month were being created. However, as the Anti-Austerity Alliance pointed out at the time, much of this was down to a change in the method used by the Central Statistics Office to record job creation. By the end of 2014 this statistical quirk had been worked through and it revealed that the actual level of job creation was 27,600 rather than the 60,000 a year they had claimed. This is despite the fact that every year since they came to power the government have produced an ‘Action Plan for Jobs’ and apparently recorded success rates of 90% & 92% with these plans!
No country for the young & unemployed
Emigration has acted as a safety valve for the government against a social explosion because of unemployment. Since 2009, nearly 400,000 people have emigrated from the country. At the height of the crisis someone was leaving the country every 6 minutes, even with the supposed recovery the latest available figures show that 81,900 people left.
The government and the Labour Party in particular, have pursued a policy of forced emigration to solve the unemployment crisis. The government slashed the dole for young people to €100 a week – the choice couldn’t be clearer – emigration or poverty! For those who didn’t take the hint Joan Burton’s department went a step further and sent out 13,000 letters to the unemployed advising them of job opportunities……..abroad! This was an amazing 225% increase in the number of similar letters which were sent out the previous year!
Forced free Labour Schemes
The government have taken advantage of the unemployment crisis to attack welfare entitlements and in turn undermine pay and working conditions. Through the introduction of so-called labour activation schemes such as JobBridge and Gateway.
These schemes have been exposed for what they are forced free labour schemes – JobBridge has been discredited because of the work of campaigns like ScamBridge which was launched by AAA TD Paul Murphy two years ago. The unemployed take part in 9 month long, 40 hour a week ‘internships’ for an extra €50 on top of their dole – this often doesn’t cover their travel and lunch! For employers they get to get a free worker who they don’t have to pay one cent towards to boost their profits. This scheme has numerous effects – it popularises the idea that it is ‘normal’ to work for free for a period of your career to ‘get a foot on the ladder’. It also acts to drive down wages and block job creation – why would a boss hire someone on proper rates of pay when the government through this scheme will provide them with free labour? Scandalously, it is the Labour Party who have been the biggest promoters and staunchest defenders of these schemes!
Participants on Gateway get an extra €20 a week in return for working 20 hours for local councils for 22 months – in effect people are forced to work for €1 an hour for almost 2 years! Just over 3,000 workers in local authorities have retired and not been replaced over the last 5 years because of the recruitment embargo – the government now plan to use 3,000 Gateway conscripts to fill the gaps in council services which have been created by their austerity measures.