Saturday 7 December 2019

Joan Burton wants a job guarantee for everyone on dole

Joan Burton presents certificates to graduates of a work programme in Cabra, Dublin, yesterday. Picture: MAXWELLS
Joan Burton presents certificates to graduates of a work programme in Cabra, Dublin, yesterday. Picture: MAXWELLS

Fionnan Sheahan, Group Political Editor

LABOUR Party deputy leader Joan Burton wants the Government to "guarantee" everyone on the dole a job, training or education from the State.

The Social Protection Minister is floating the idea of a specific pledge of a "Job Guarantee" for all, which would build on an EU-driven promise for the under 25s.

The European Youth Guarantee, which is being introduced, will provide enhanced work, training and education opportunities for jobseekers under 25, if they can't get a job.

Ms Burton's wider plan has not been cleared by the Coalition as it will be viewed as being a particularly left-wing initiative.

But she says it would represent a "fundamental and decisive shift" in labour market, welfare and training systems.

The minister will set out her views in a speech at a conference organised by the trade union umbrella group, ICTU, later today.

"A wider Job Guarantee would be for those of all ages who want to work but have not found jobs in the private sector.

"Just as the goal of the Youth Guarantee is to ensure viable work, training or education opportunity for young jobseekers within a set period of them becoming unemployed, a Job Guarantee would roll out similar opportunities for those over 25," she said.

Ms Burton acknowledges there's a "long road to travel" before such a concept would gain widespread acceptance.

"But it strikes me as the only practical way in which real full employment, which is the cornerstone of a decent society, can be achieved," she said.


Ms Burton believes that even when the country returns to full employment, this will still allow for a large level of unemployment as the definition of full employment assumes it's as much as the economy can bear.

The minister said a Job Guarantee would secure real full employment at every stage of the economic cycle "by making the State the employer of last resort, guaranteeing employment and training opportunities for unemployed people".

"Such a scheme would be flexible and attuned to the economic cycle. As the economy grows and experiences inflationary pressures, the numbers of people receiving a Job Guarantee would shrink.

"In other words, it would have a deflationary effect to counter inflationary pressures in the private sector," she said.

"By contrast, in a recession when large numbers of workers are laid off, deflation would be countered by the increased spending on hiring the unemployed – who would otherwise be on welfare – under a Job Guarantee," she said.

Ms Burton said the "fixed Job Guarantee wage" would serve as the effective basic living wage in the economy and stabilise demand.

Irish Independent

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