Coughlan accused of failing former SR Technics workers

TÁNAISTE Mary Coughlan has been accused of failing former SR Technics workers with delays while she was in charge of the Department of Enterprise meaning that much of a €7.5 million retraining fund supplied by the EU may have to be returned unspent.

Former workers at the Dublin Airport aircraft maintenance plant have complained that a failure promptly to access the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) will see many of the those made redundant by the Swiss company able only to pay for a month of their studies from a fund that was supposed to train them for a new career.

Officials from the departments of Education and Skills and Social Protection briefed hundreds of ex-SRT employees last week, where details of the EGF fund allocation were revealed.

A total of €11.4m, from the EU and Government, has been made available for further education and start-up businesses.

However, the funding will only be accessible from now until October 2011, after an eight-month delay in correctly applying for the allocation, with any unused finance going back to Europe.

Labour senator Brendan Ryan will today raise the issue in the Seanad.

He said; “I am very concerned to have received information from the Department of Education that the Implementation Period, within which services funded by the SR Technics EGF money must be supplied, is from March 25, 2009, to October 9, 2011.

“If this is the case, it is an utter scandal, and the SR Technics workers have been let down again.”

He added, “It would be absolutely devastating for them if any part of the fund had to be returned because of the delays.

“I call on the Tánaiste to explain why it took so long for the initial application to be sent, and sent without all the information included.

“In December 2009, Labour MEP Proinsias De Rossa contacted the European Commission and they informed him that they were still awaiting additional information from Government.

“Why then, did it take until May 2010 for this information to be sent to the commission?”

Similar problems have also emerged with government attempts to access the EGF funds in relation to former Dell and Waterford Glass workers.

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