Ireland: The slave capital of Europe

The Black Stuff
The Black Stuff

On first glance this title may appear to be a bit extreme. Especially for those of you with the fantastical view of Ireland as a green lush country over-populated with mystical little leprechaun’s, where we dance our way to the pub to battle our on going love affair with the ‘black stuff’. A more likely story reads closer to these lines. The green has long been washed out of our lands thanks to the almost non-stop year round rainfall. Also we do not dance our way to the pub for two reasons. One being that the literal meaning of the term ‘slip jig’ would be put to the test with our abundance of rainfall. The second, and more plausible, reason being that the cost of a ‘night out’ in our recently nominated ‘happiest country in the world’ would amount to a bill equaling a weekly spend on groceries. And what about the slaves I hear you ask?

Ok, so Ireland may not be leading the way in terms of conventional slavery, by which I mean that there is not a great deal of human trafficking carried out in this country. Not to say that it does not happen. But in terms of this article I hope to highlight a new form of slavery which has actually been spearheaded by our very own Minister for Social Protection. Ironic right? Well welcome to Ireland. The land of 1000 welcomes and all that. But at this point I suppose you want to hear about this legal brand of slavery?

Here in Ireland our devout ministers and government officials, looking for a solution to the great unemployment epidemic which is spreading through the country, have come up with a ‘flawless’ amendment to the problem. In a genius moment of clarity they have decided that the main problem surrounding employment is money. Well salary and wages to be precise. So to counteract this problem, they decided to stop paying workers. But of course this would be illegal, so they opted to pay workers 5o euro per week instead and have label it as the ‘National Internship Scheme’. But let me clarify this a little bit. Of course the entire working population takes home more than a measly 50 euro per week. I should have specified earlier that the scheme only applies to educated workers, who have obtained a formal College/University degree.

The aim of the National Internship Scheme is to assist in breaking the cycle where job seekers are unable to get a job without experience, either as new entrants to the labour market after education or training or as unemployed workers wishing to learn new skills. The scheme will also give people a real opportunity to gain valuable experience to bridge the gap between study and the beginning of their working lives.


The government claim that the scheme will help to provide work to over 5000 Irish people. They say that the scheme will help the intern to gain valuable experience and gain new skills. This is all well and good as it encourages people to get up and do something during these tough times. I myself am currently on a College work placement scheme at the moment and even though I am receiving no payment whatsoever I can say that the experience has been more then beneficial. But this minor collection of benefits is greatly outweighed by the negative and potentially harmful aspects of the scheme.

Participants will receive €50 in addition to their existing social welfare payment and they will retain all of their secondary benefits. The Scheme will not displace existing workers.


Although there are current limitations in place which regulate the amount of interns that can work for any one company and the internship period is limited to 9 months there is still more than enough room for exploitation and abuse. The Irish government, especially Joan Burton the minister for social protection, have made countless assurances to Irish people that the scheme will not effect existing workers. But it does not take a genius to realise that 5o euro per week is much lower than a standard weekly wage. Also the scheme is now accessible by any company, including fast food restaurants, bars and supermarkets. This in turn means that there now is a readily available army of high skilled cheap labour to be ‘used’ as a major cost saving device.

EMPLOYERS have tried to exploit the Government’s new €20m internship scheme to get free labour.

The department monitoring the scheme has been forced to take down at least 28 job offers from its website that “did not meet required standards”.

One of the ads removed was for a delivery driver and another for a night porter, according to sources close to the internship scheme.

The scheme has already sparked fears that the candidates would replace existing staff on higher wages, or that they would not get the opportunity to develop their skills.

The scheme is open to those on the Live Register for more than three months.

Employers have to pay nothing to the interns — who get less than €2 from the State for up to 40 hours work a week, on top of dole payments.


The fact of the matter is that the precedent has been set. It is no longer customary to pay staff for their work in Ireland. It is accepted as part of the economic recession, paid jobs no longer exist and we should be honored to be given the opportunity to work regardless of pay. The situation has been turned on its head to the extent where job seekers have to grovel and beg, just so they can work for free in the hope that they may gain some ‘experience’. You may not agree that Ireland is currently a slave capital. But give it a few years, I’m sure your mind will be changed by then.

15 thoughts on “Ireland: The slave capital of Europe

  1. Reblogged this on Sherry Clayton Works and commented:
    You will be shocked at the “Scheme” Ireland has put in place to address their struggling economy and unemployment. Under the guise of giving new graduates work experience, they work for 50 Euros a week!! What do you think will happen to those making regular pay?

    Read this amazing post by Keelan Foley to find out more.


  2. They tried to get the jobless to work for their benefits in UK which resulted in slave labour and loss of regular jobs. It takes no genius to work out the effects of dumb schemes like these.


  3. This is bogus! You work, you get paid, you spend your money, the economy thrives. You work for (next to) nothing, you have nothing to spend, the economy dies. Austerity measures don’t work and “interns” take paying jobs away from workers.


  4. Here in Portugal the government have taken the ‘novel’ step of reducing unemployment benefit. The idea is that it’ll get people back into work and off benefits. Of course, it would help if there were jobs around in the first place, but the policies of the same government have ensured that this is an ever decreasing pool. Joined-up thinking at its best.


  5. I think this scheme stinks. When I finished sixth form college I did an apprenticeship with the local council. The job was skilled and required training and also led to more opportunities. I was paid £75 per week for around 6 months before being paid a full salary. I don’t agree with this type of scheme being applied to retail jobs, or any other unskilled role.


  6. You mean…government doesn’t solve individual problems? Isn’t interference the same as compassion? Man, in America we better…oh shit….too late here too. Sounds a lot like the latter chapters of Atlas Shrugged.


  7. Wage labour is the same as slavery, what’s the difference? You are forced to work because you have to and then you get nothing but debt for it in return or maybe the belief in freedom. Oh well, I’m over it. At least we have the black stuff 🙂 Cheers!


  8. so you guys are also struggling with employment over there? commenting from the U.S. i understand your frustration but 50euros a week?! How can anyone survive on that? i believe that’s about $65 in america. even our internships (ones that pay anyway) pay more than that! i suggest u guys just drink your problems away! that’s the american way – i mean, clearly, you can see how well that is working out for us *heavy sarcasm*


    1. Wow, the world seems to be banjaxed in every corner.

      Ah yes we could always drink our way out of it. Although the 50euro per week won’t go too far with the price of alcohol these days.

      But sure things could always be worse.
      *heavier sarcasm* (does sarcasm even have weight?)


  9. I worked as an “intern” in the US for a socialist intellectual espousing European values doing “eco-farming.” Turns out he was the worst boss ever. Never came close to paying me. I wasn’t even allowed to use a car to go into town. I didn’t get paid because I was “learning something.” What a scam!!! I’m American and hated how excited some people were about joining the European Union the last time I was in Ireland. I also couldn’t understand the American peanuts at the pubs when you have the much better cheese and onion Tatos(?).


  10. Keelan, the world IS banjaxed. Loads of countries have the same scheme to keep businesses ticking over by letting them get out of paying a reasonable wage for the work they get. They all have different names, but the result is the same. Lots of people working for nothing, a few people doing nothing and earning a f*****g fortune. The excuse is ‘the economy, stupid’. Just wait til we crawl out of the recession and watch the faces of the bosses when they are asked to start paying their staff properly. Then you’ll see some rioting in the streets.


  11. Hi. Thanks for the ‘like’ on my haiku. I’ve been meandering through your blog and found this; it isn’t limited to Ireland and it isn’t limited to ‘internships’. Much of volunteering here has been turned into unpaid labour by ‘Volunteering England’ and kids at school are pushed into it – “It’ll look good on your CV”. There’s little charitable about the majority of the large charities now – they are massive businesses – with the advantage of attracting a large pool of unpaid labour, led by highly paid CEOs and ‘fundraisers’. I did a ‘real’ apprenticeship way back in the dark ages – I was paid a pittance then but I don’t complain, rather the opposite, I was very well trained, I learned a lot which has stood me in good stead for the ensuing 5 decades of my life, and I had a great time. Nowadays, as you say, most such things are a ‘scam’.


  12. Wage slavery. It’s infecting the entire world, spreading from the cancerous heart of capitalism.

    This is an inevitable outcome of the capitalist for-profit system.

    The only purpose of profit is to ensure the dominance of those who take over those from whom it is taken.

    In america many states have enacted “right to work” laws. That means no unions and no collective bargaining. The jobs will go to whoever is willing to work for the least pay and most minimal benefits.

    Real unemployment in america is over 20%, regardless of propaganda to the contrary. That means workers must compete in a race to the bottom.

    The “austerity” attack is one of the last stages in the imposition of the “new world order” that has been widely ridiculed as a ridiculous conspiracy theory.

    What better way to maintain such a monstrous agenda than to keep it hidden in plain sight?


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