Ex-Dell workers’ anger at delay in using EU funds

FORMER Dell workers have expressed dismay at delays in distributing EU funds earmarked for helping former employees back into the workforce.

Dell Redundant Workers Association (DRWA) said they face losing part of the €22.8 million provided by the EU Globalisation Fund (EGF) and Government to retrain workers if it is not spent prior to a September 2011 deadline.

DRWA spokesman Tony O’Shea said progress on distributing the monies to pay for training courses for more than 2,000 people made unemployed by the Dell closure was “going from slow to slower”.

He added that attempts to get the funding utilised to pay for training courses was continually “running into road blocks, red tape and whatever”.

Particular criticism has been levelled at state training agency Fás, which has been given key responsibility by the Government for overseeing the distribution of EGF funds.

Mr O’Shea told a Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment last week that the DRWA was “incredulous” that a agency as troubled as Fás had been given such a role and the DRWA had experienced serious communications problems dealing with the organisation.

Even after several months, representatives of Fás and the Department of Social Welfare were unable to tell former workers seeking to avail of the EGF funding what impact this would have on their current welfare entitlements.

Fás, despite claims to the contrary, had also not compiled a comprehensive database of workers eligible for EGF assistance, which includes those formerly directly employed by Dell or associated businesses. The State agency was now seeking to use the DRWA’s own 1,700- person database.

Junior Minister at the Department of Enterprise Dara Calleary has been heavily criticised by the DRWA. The group’s vice- chairman Paul O’Connor said when he met Mr Calleary on February 1 to discuss the EGF situation, the junior minister committed to sitting down once a week if necessary with the DRWA but these meetings failed to materialise.

Mr O’Connor said two women in their 40s had come to him “in tears” in recent weeks.

This followed their approach to Fás to access EGF monies for an education course. He said officials told them funds would not be available until they had completed the course and only then if they passed end-of -year exams.

DRWA honorary president Labour MEP Alan Kelly said that the “eyes of Europe” were on how Ireland dealt with the distribution of the funds to former Dell workers.

He said that the current failings could adversely effect other government applications for EGF funding for former waterford Glass and SR Technics workers.

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