Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1999 18:43:21 -0400
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YorkU.CA>
From: P. K. Murphy <bi008@FREENET.TORONTO.ON.CA>
Subject: (Welfare/Workfare) Irish government challenged over human rights (fwd)

Irish Government brought to account before international body

Scheme Workers Alliance, media release, 21 June 1999

Since late 1996 The Scheme Workers' Alliance, through our contacts with unemployed people and their representatives, have become seriously concerned with the Government's attempts to pressurise people into low-paid work or training schemes for which they are not suited and which they do not freely accept. We know of many case of this kind and insist that this knowledge be put into the public domain, welcome or unwelcome. Such behaviour, on the part of our government contravenes international labour law, as defined by the International Labour Organisation, to which our government is a signatory to.

For too long in our history vulnerable people have had to rely on charity to survive. This initiative is a clear statement that those living in poverty have fundamental rights that need to be enforced. Let all governments beware: they will be breached at their peril!

So says Paul Johnston of the Scheme Workers Alliance, launching the Alliance's challenge to the Irish Government, with particular reference to employment and welfare policy, in relation to the coercion experienced by unemployed people and others on welfare over the last number of years.

The Scheme Workers' Alliance has applied for a ruling that the Irish Government is in breach of a number of Articles of the International Labour Organisation's Conventions ratified by the Government.

These Conventions prohibit the use of coercion against people on welfare in order to encourage them to take up work.

From the perspective of unemployed people a lot of these jobs are dead end, with low pay at a time of increasing living costs. Instead what people who have suffered the most in the hard years of unemployment need is an apology from the Government and the Business sector for the last 10 years and a promise that now that the economy is booming people who have been thrown to the side will be accorded their rights, enshrined in existing international legislation as well as the equality and dignity that that is the hallmark of any inclusive society.

The International Labour Organisation have considered that the case submitted by the S.W.A. merits serious consideration and has contacted the Irish Government for a response prior to a deliberation by their select Committee of Experts which will sit in November '99.

The time has never been so good concluded Paul Johnston, for all the high sounding phrases in our own 1937 Constitution about the common good, and the integrity and dignity of the individual, to be taken seriously and put into practice by a Government, committed through its National Anti-Poverty strategy, to seriously alleviating poverty.

Fundamental Rights are for everybody he said, But particularly for those who still have little else in this society to rely on.