By Paul Murphy
JANUARY 2009 saw the worst ever increase in unemployment. Those signing on to the live register rose by 36,500 to a total of 327,900. Brian Cowen has admitted that unemployment could reach 400,000 by the end of the year, but if it continues at that rate it could pass the half a million mark by the end of 2009.
This means poverty conditions being faced by tens of thousands of workers – many of whom still have huge mortgage and loan repayments. Not only are they forced to live on around ?200 a week, they face the humiliation of being treated like cattle at the social welfare offices. Because of the sharp increase in unemployment and the absence of sufficient investment in the social welfare offices, new claimants face hours in different queues. They are forced to jump through hoops to “prove” they’re not working and even after countless forms, it can take up to 15 weeks to get their entitlements. There must be an end to the delays in processing social welfare claims, by hiring the necessary extra staff so claims are processed speedily.
The difference in treatment for workers who created the Celtic Tiger and those bankers and speculators who created the crisis is stark. Workers are thrown on the dole, while the government bails out the bankers with taxpayers’ money!
Emergency action is needed to tackle the jobs crisis. To prevent the scourge of unemployment spreading further, the working week should be reduced to a maximum of 35 hours, with no loss of pay, to create jobs and boost the economy.
It is a disgrace that while people are being laid off and are faced with the dole, our health and education systems suffer from a severe lack of equipment, facilities and staff. Likewise, thousands of communities across the country have no facilities or infrastructure. The state should launch a massive building programme to provide jobs and buildings and supply the services and infrastructure that people need.
Socialist Party says
– Don’t make the unemployed wait – end the delays in processing social welfare claims. Hire the necessary extra staff so claims are processed speedily.
– Jobs not dole – for the right of everyone to a decent job.
– Reduce the working week to 35 hours, without any loss of pay, to create jobs and boost the economy.
– Invest in a massive public works programme to provide the much needed facilities and infrastructure like schools, hospitals and public transport and in so doing create tens of thousands of new jobs.
– Nationalise the banks, construction companies and all other major companies threatening job cuts or closure, under democratic control and management by working people.
– For an economic plan that puts the interests of ordinary working people before the profits of the few.