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Interview: Government assault on young people

Monika Janas, interviewed Paul Murphy, Socialist Party MEP for Dublin on the stance he has taken against JobBridge exploitation and youth unemployment.

Q: What is ScamBridge and how did it come to be?
A: ScamBridge is a site used to enable people to expose JobBridge exploiters and to give their own experiences of doing JobBridge, and explain how bad it is. We look up examples of JobBridge that are very exploitative, where they’re clearly real jobs not internships, and we put them up. It came to be because Dave Murphy (who’s another Socialist Party activist) and I wrote an article about JobBridge and we got a huge response, bigger than we’ve ever gotten before, and we thought that this would be a good way to raise public awareness and consciousness about the reality of JobBridge which is that exploitation isn’t an exception, it’s a rule.

Q: What do you think is the alternative for youth unemployment?
A: Most simply the alternative is to create jobs instead of fitting jobs with free labour, which is what JobBridge does. In our budget statement we gave an illustrative figure, which is based on reports done by economists, which says that if you invested €5 billion a year for three years you could create 150,000 jobs.

But also in addition to that, instead of increasing fees for third level education, fees should be scrapped. People should be encouraged to go to universities, colleges and ITs with fully free fees and decent grants. But the main thing we call for is a real jobs scheme which in an investment in real education and real training.

Q; Why do you think it’s important for young people to be active in politics?
A: Well, at the moment it’s their future that’s being destroyed by the capitalist establishment who are only interested in defending their own interests. Forced emigration is happening to a huge extent with people being faced with staying here for €100 a week, with no prospect of getting a job apart from working for free in JobBridge. I would encourage people who are thinking of emigrating to consider staying and fighting to change the system with a socialist programme and fight for real jobs.

Q: You spoke at the Young People’s Assembly organised by We’re Not Leaving. What do you think of this campaign?
A: I think it’s very positive. It wasn’t just pre-existing political young people there, it was people, mostly in their mid-20’s, who have maybe emigrated and come back or have been trying to get a job or have a job and they’re not happy with the it, so it reflected different people’s opinions and experiences. It’s a first step to getting young people really organised to be able to defend their living conditions and rights. One of the reasons why the government feels able to attack young people with JobBridge and dole cuts is because young people are not organised, with the students’ unions being really bureaucratised and not playing an active role in the movement. There is a need for young people to come together and fight on those issues and hopefully Young People’s Assembly and We’re Not Leaving can be the start of that.

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