Red tape tying up ex-Dell staff funds

THE head of a top European Parliament employment committee said yesterday she was surprised at the level of bureaucracy adopted by Irish state agencies in the dispersal of €22.8 million from the European Globalisation Fund (EGF).

The parliament approved assistance from the EGF for workers who lost jobs due to the Dell pullout, in order for them to upskill, re-enter education or set up their own businesses.

More than 2,800 workers directly employed at Dell and supply companies have to date sought money from the EGF.

When a delegation of MEPs from the European Parliament Committee of Employment, led by French MEP Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, met with the Dell Redundant Workers Assocation (DRWA) at Limerick City Hall, they heard of workers’ frustration at accessing the fund.

Ms Morin-Chartier hit out at the level of bureaucracy were having to contend with: “You can rest assured, in the report I am drafting (on the EGF fund) and in the changes that we will bring to the regulations, there will be elements to make sure that no red tape hinders political purposes, because I am here to represent the interest of workers.”

She said they had received invaluable information at yesterday’s meeting with the DRWA to help change regulations on the use of the EGF.

Ms Morin-Chartier said: “We feel flexibility in the use of the fund is something we wish at a European level should be implemented by member states, because it was created for workers, so they can get back to work. The interests of workers are at the heart of the European Globalisation Fund.”

Alan Kelly, MEP, has warned that a very significant amount of the EGF money will be lost, if it is not spent by the cut-off date next year.

He said: “Many of the problems workers faced six months ago are still in existence today. The state agencies are not adopting a positive attitude to the fund. They are drowning workers in red tape and administration.

“The EU is monitoring the progress of the fund allocation carefully and I have no doubt that, if the Irish Government is seen to be unsuccessful in correct funding administration, it will have very serious consequences for any future application made on behalf of Irish workers,” said Mr Kelly.

Fás along with county and city enterprise boards are the lead agencies in allocating funding and courses.

More than 80% of those seeking EGF assistance live in Limerick city and county. Mr Kelly said the two-year deadline set for use of EGF allocations was too short.

He said: “Another problem is the start date, which is the date of application, when it should be the date the go-ahead is given and the two-year span is too short. It should be three years, particularly if somebody is doing a three-year course.”

Mr Kelly said the workers at Waterford Crystal will get approval for EGF assistance on June 15 by the European Parliament.

He said the Waterford Crystal fund will amount to around €6 million.

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