August 2012        

Attempting to return to employment

Is this madness the result of Kaiser Merkel’s Troika, or an example of the state always jackbooting its weaker citizens with indifference and contempt, or have they just sunk to a level of operating like a bunch of Keystone Cops? The following narrative relates to my recent experiences in attempting to obtain employment.
     Recently, while searching the very sparse job vacancy pages, I noted a number of vacancies for electricians in the Dublin area. However, it was stipulated that applicants must have a FÁS Safe Pass.
     I contacted my local FÁS centre, requesting placement on a one-day FÁS Safe Pass course. To my astonishment, I was informed that they do not provide this service but that others (i.e. private companies) run these courses.
     I explained that vacancies were being advertised for electricians in the Dublin area but that it was a requirement for the applicants to have a FÁS Safe Pass. They suggested that I pay for the course myself. After explaining to them that because of being unemployed and at present on the dole I was not in a position to pay the €95 fee that would enable me to apply for a vacant job. I was told there was nothing they can do.
     After giving my situation some thought, I made enquiries concerning the FÁS Safe Pass at my local dole office (which is in the same building as the FÁS office). The dole office informed me that I would have to attend an interview, and an appointment was made for 10 a.m. the following Monday.
     On the Monday, while waiting in the main area adjacent to the interview rooms, I was asked for my letter of appointment. I pointed out that I had not been issued with a letter of appointment.
     During the interview, after I had explained my request and also about the vacancies advertised, I was advised that, resulting from Government cut-backs, and in the light of the collapse of the construction industry, they would not pay the fee of €50 or so required. (My queries had indicated fees of around €95.)
     To my astonishment, I was curtly asked why I was looking for a job in the construction industry when that industry had collapsed. I almost had to spell out the fact, as previously explained by me, that the reason was that the job vacancies advertised require a FÁS Safe Pass.
     The interviewer then told me I should be more “pro-active” in looking for a job. Bearing in mind that I’m the one trying to obtain a safe pass because jobs are being advertised that require a FÁS Safe Pass, I felt insulted, and told the interviewer so, while further indicating my “pro-activity” by virtue of the fact that to facilitate my returning to employment I have been studying to obtain a third-level qualification.
     The interviewer then changed tack and informed me that she was referring to obtaining the FÁS Safe Pass, and suggested that I should pay the fee myself.
     I attempted to inform her about my circumstances by stating that, resulting from the social welfare office’s refusal to pay three months’ back rent from my rental allowance application, I was now obliged to pay more than €90 per week towards my rent until the outstanding rent is paid off or else face threatened eviction, and consequently I am not in a position to pay the fee.
     As by this time it was clearly evident that I was wasting my time, I requested the interviewer’s refusal in writing, as I stated that I wished to make a written complaint. The response of the interviewer was to laugh at me as she refused to confirm her refusal in writing.
     Not much sign of a green jersey there.

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