TD joins protesters calling for ‘exploitative’ work experience scheme to be axed

TD joins protesters calling for ‘exploitative’ work experience scheme to be axed

People Before Profit’s Paul Murphy (Brian Lawless/PA)

Protesters who staged a demonstration in Dublin city centre have said they were sending a message to any employer who uses an “exploitative” work experience scheme for jobseekers.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy joined demonstrators outside a business in the city.

Protesters criticised the business’s use of the Work Placement Experience Programme (WPEP), which they say acts like a free labour scheme for employers.

Mr Murphy said the WPEP is “JobBridge 2.0”.

The JobBridge scheme, launched in 2011 to provide work experience for the unemployed, was criticised by opponents as displacing or disincentivising job creation and was wound down in 2016.

The new programme is intended to provide 10,000 work placements, with participants paid €306 per week.

Mr Murphy said: “These aren’t real jobs. And this is, in reality, a free labour scheme, which will be bad for all workers.”

He said a new campaign will target other employers using the scheme and he called on the Government to scrap it.

“It is being abused in a widespread way. And that’s because it’s designed to be abused. This is a free labour scheme.

“We’re sending a message to other employers today: If you use this scheme, to try and take in free labour – ‘Scambridge’ – we’ll be targeting your business. And we’ll be exposing that on social media. And maybe organising protests outside to make your customers and other workers aware of what’s happening,” Mr Murphy said.

Protesters also spoke to the owner of the business.

“I’m not displacing anyone because I’m looking for people, I’m looking for people to work,” the owner said.

The business declined to speak to the PA news agency.

The demonstration was also attended by members of University College Dublin Students’ Union.

Ruairí Power, president of the students’ union, said: “The Government is subsidising an exploitative scheme.

“I think today worked well and the idea behind it is to put the pressure on Government to remove the loopholes.”

The company has been contacted for comment.

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