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Apprentice fees hike could lead to strikes

THE Government decision which sees apprentices charged up to €1,433 in fees for the 10 weeks they spend in college could lead to industrial action.

Union and student leaders are seeking the abolition of the charge on apprentices doing off-the-job training in institutes of technology, which they say is being unfairly imposed on some of the lowest-paid workers in the State.

Apprentices starting a 10-week placement in 11 colleges in the past week have been presented with a demand for a student contribution of between €833 and €1,433.

Traditionally, the contribution was paid to the colleges on their behalf by the Exchequer, but the October Budget changed that. Students will be liable for the charge twice during their four-year apprenticeships, for each of the two periods of college training.

Apprentices who don't pay are at risk of not receiving their exam results at the end of the 10-week placement, which could present problems for them when they return to work.

CAMPAIGN

A campaign got underway yesterday to have have the charge reversed.

Eamon Devoy, general secretary of the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union said it could escalate into industrial disputes, supported by craftworkers, if such apprentices were penalised on their return to work because they didn't have their results.

He said the apprentices being asked for the biggest contribution of €1,433 were in the instrumentation and electrical, avionics and print media trades.

fdillon@herald.ie


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