NI Steps to Work Scheme: 21st century slave labour

Youth Fight for Jobs Belfast has uncovered a scandal involving the Department for Employment & Learning pushing unemployed young people to work for bosses for free in order to cut the dole figures.

The Step to Work programme which was introduced last September is being used to provide slave labour for businesses. Steps to Work is compulsory for people aged between 18 and 24 who are unemployed for more than 13 weeks. If you refuse you lose your dole. Each participant is given several ‘options’ like “trying out self-employment” and worthless courses. Not surprisingly many end up being sent to work for businesses for nothing.

Before it was scrapped in September the New Deal programme encouraged employers to avail of cheap labour through DEL subsidising wages. 24% of employers participating in the scheme said their main reason was for ‘cheap labour’. Now under Steps to Work they don’t have to pay a single penny in wages!

These slave drivers are exploiting young people who desperately require work experience to have any chance of finding a job. Young people face the catch 22 situation of needing experience to get a job but they need work to get the experience.

All the parties in the Assembly Executive support this outrageous scam. We will picket bosses who use young people as slave labour to increase their profits.

Youth Fight for Jobs calls for the scrapping of the Steps to Work programme. Instead there should be massive investment into a public job creation programme.

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