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Apprentices at ETB/SOLAS forced to accept major changes to payment schedule - Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on Minister of State for Training and Skills, John Halligan, the Chief Executive of SOLAS and the Chief Executives of the state's Education and Training Boards (ETB's) to immediately suspend plans to introduce wide ranging changes that may potentially affect the payment schedules of thousands of apprentices on low pay. Deputy McGrath was speaking after he was made aware that hundreds of apprentices at ETB/SOLAS in Waterford were informed that from the end of this month, they will no longer be paid every week, but every fortnight and that their allowance is now being reclassified as a ‘wage':

“The apprentices I have spoken to are extremely angry at the heavy handed tactics that are being employed by the ETB's and the Further Education and Training Authority, SOLAS.

They were informed without any prior notice that receipt of their payment is to be changed from weekly to fortnightly.

Most of these apprentices however are barely surviving from week to week as it is.

We are talking about people receiving €120 per week and who still have to pay for college digs and other living expenses.

This totally flies in the face of government commitments to increase the number of apprenticeships.

All of the apprentices, ranging from mechanical, electrical, agricultural and plumbing are being affected by these changes.

They are also deeply concerned that privacy issues may have been compromised through the transfer of their personal details such as PPSN and bank details to a new company that has been brought into to oversee and operate the new payment arrangements. We need absolute assurances that this has not happened.

I will be insisting to the Minister and to ETB/SOLAS that they immediately drop all plans to introduce such punitive changes. The apprentices are genuinely in uproar about this move and they have promised to resist its implementation with every option available to them,” concluded Deputy McGrath.