Varadkar plans JobBridge overhaul in coming weeks

As SIPTU calls for immediate end to "free labour schemes"

Varadkar plans JobBridge overhaul in coming weeks

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Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has confirmed that JobBridge is "going to be overhauled very considerably" following news that his department is greatly concerned with the scheme.

An unpublished report from the Department of Social Protection, obtained by RTÉ, has expressed uneasiness with the potential for real jobs to be replaced by internships. An audit found that the department's monitoring system is unable to ensure such schemes aren't resulting in job displacement.

Varadkar admitted there were "concerns" about the system when asked about the report.

While he argued that "tens of thousands of people have done very well out of JobBridge", he pledged to bring proposals for major changes to Cabinet in September.

Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation John Halligan declared that it was time for the scheme to end in May.

SIPTU is now calling for the immediate abolition of JobBridge and similar "free labour schemes".

The union said there is no longer any need for such projects to operate here as the country is now experiencing economic recovery.

It also wants those on such schemes in the public sector should be given proper employment.

SIPTU president Jack O'Connor says projects like JobBridge are open to exploitation:

"There will always be people among the employers who are unscrupulous enough to abuse these schemes. And to abuse the people who work on them and to take advantage of them to compete on an unfair basis with other employers who are trying to do the right thing.

"In the case of the public sector where there are some schemes, is to offer the people who are employed on those schemes good employment, direct employment, because of course the economic situation has improved so much."

JobBridge sees interns work full-time hours for €52 on top of their weekly social welfare payments.