‘Work for free’ says government to unemployed teachers and other school staff


Having announced their decision to sack 1,200 teachers and an untold number of Special Needs Assistants last week, the government has swiftly followed it up with a plan to make unemployed teachers and other school staff work for free.

Schools will be able to employ teachers and other staff without paying them as part of a FÁS work experience programme…” says the RTE website this evening.  But since when does ‘employment’ come without payment?  Unless it’s slavery we’re talking about.

The newly-announced scheme will, according to Minister for Education & Skills Mary Coughlan, “assist people who are unemployed to keep their skills current and gain valuable work experience”.

Unemployed people will be “offered the chance” to work for up to 40 hours per week and up to 9 months in the year.  This government really are taking the piss.  It’s only a tiny step from here until people are being told they have to do to retain their paltry dole money. 

Sack people, then ask newly qualified graduates to do their job for free.  And what do the unions say? Well - The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) says the scheme “should not exploit those participating”.  Think they’ve missed something – surely any union should see that working for nothing is already exploitation.  The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) has been equally lily-livered in its response.  As of yet the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) don’t seem to have anything to say.

Union members need to take the initiative on this.  The scheme can only happen with our co-operation.  It’s got to be opposed on every level. 

WORDS: Gregor Kerr