FÁS new jobs plan: Work for free!

Imagine being turned down after a job interview. Then imagine checking an employment website some time later only to find an ad for that same job, word for word, except for the fact that it is now a “Work Placement Programme”- a job where your only “pay” is a few words on your CV. There are now a range of job advertisements on jobbank.fas.ie offering nine-month, full-time contracts, each declaring that “This is a work placement programme and does not offer a salary.”

These jobs are advertised in renowned companies such as Ecco Shoes and Centra. On acceptance of the job, the employer pays nothing and the worker continues to receive social welfare payments – in effect, it’s the state, not only subsidising private companies but also legitimising slave labour, undermining the pay and conditions of workers already employed.

Perhaps more shocking is a recent offer to the FAS-funded Moyross Jobs Club. FAS sent a letter encouraging unemployed people in Limerick to join the Royal Irish Rangers, a British Army regiment which has troops in Afghanistan! It should be noted that failure to respond to job offers can lead to expulsion and a cut in dole for members of this Jobs Club.

So employers can now choose to pay in a currency called “experience” instead of euros. Such experience varies from operating and balancing tills – which doesn’t take nine months to learn – to the vague and somewhat ominous “how to build and maintain a positive attitude”.

Capitalism’s offer to young people of work-for-free placements, McJobs, or the dole is an indictment of the system. We must work together to “build and maintain” a socialist alternative that puts the needs of people before profit. Building such an alternative will include a rank and file movement in the trade unions to force them to fight in the interests of young workers and the unemployed. Step one will mean taking on Fas’s shameful Work Placement Programme. Such a step should be linked to the fight for a job for all on decent wages and conditions as a basic right that all young people deserve.