The Connect Trade Union is in the process of serving notice of a one day national strike for November 2nd on manufacturing plants across the country where employers are refusing to pay student service charges for apprentices attending Institutes of Technology. These charge range from €913 to €2,750. The vast majority of apprentices only attend ITs on a part time basis and rarely use the services concerned.
“The Connect Trade Union has contacted IBEC on a number of occasions in an effort to address this issue”, the union’s General Secretary Eamon Devoy said today. “However, it has failed to engage on behalf of its members and consequently no resolution has been found.
“Not only are apprentices being asked to pay for services they do not use, as a cynical money raising device by the institutes, but the latter have introduced a ten per cent late payment fee, further adding to the burden of these very low paid workers, some of whom are the only breadwinners in their families.”
Current legislation states that when the training authority provides courses, facilities or services for apprentices, any fees shall be payable by, and only by, the employer. Unfortunately many employers are refusing to pay this training levy, citing other payments they already make to the National Training Fund.
“Discussions between the Connect Trade Union and the Department of Education have failed to offset these charges, which were recently imposed by the Government through the Institutes of Technology nationwide”, Mr Devoy added. “They are due to increase again by up to 40 per cent and fly in the face of the European wide Youth Guarantee Scheme to combat youth unemployment. They are effectively a tax on the training and consequently employment opportunities of young people.”
If the dispute is not resolved by November 2nd, a one day stoppage will take place at all those companies which have failed to pay the charges. Mr Devoy has written to IBEC and the employers concerned to establish which firms are prepared to pay the student service charges. Any employer who does so will be exempted from industrial action.
September 24th, 2015