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Friday, February 11, 2011

Dell RWA Update

We have been contacted by RTE they want to do a piece on the EGF for the news and are looking to do interviews in Limerick early next week. If you would like to take this opportunity to air your views then please let us know and we can make arrangements. The issues we are focusing on are; Omitted companies, 3rd level funding beyond June, Travel allowances, 3000 Fetac Limit on egf training grant and Issues with FAS courses, schemes and internships. Of course these are just what we feel we should highlight you may have separate issues that you would like to raise.

We would like to go into some detail on the the omitted companies and course fees beyond 2011 as both of these are key problems with the way the fund was implemented and

On the omitted companies;

It is a European requirement the all the affected companies be listed on the application and it was the States responsibility to ensure that the information on the application was correct. In Europe the decision to accept an application is made by vote so they are not willing to allow any alterations to the terms set out in an application.
Locally we are unclear how the list of 9 companies was drafted. What we are aware of is that it was a rushed job as the process of getting an application ready started approximately 3 weeks before it was submitted. Alan Kelly(MEP) was largely responsible for getting the Gov to apply for the fund so he is aware ho long it took to get them to apply.
We have also been told that it was the companies responsibility to contact the department to get on that list (we consider this to be unconfirmed) but we have spoke with management in some of the companies who were not aware of the application process so either the communication was botched or it didn't exist.
There are further groups of workers such as the Dell staff in Dublin and the Alienware staff in Athlone who are ineligible for funding even though they worked directly for a listed company(in this case Dell) because the application was made for staff in the Mid-West region of Ireland again this is down to the application being deeply flawed.

Early this year when we were first working on this our focus was on getting companies added to the list in April-May we were told that they would agree to 5 additions to the list and work would be ongoing to get all the companies added to the list. This was being handled through the DETI and there was a problem with this as they didn't check to see if they were allowed to add companies to the list. So in early July the decision to add companies was reversed and it reverted back to the original 9 we have been unable to make progress on this since.

The current situation is that there are hundreds of people who should have been eligible for assistance who were under the impression that there would be some help available to them after they were made redundant and all those people have been let down and there has been very little that we have been able to do for them. There are people who worked for the 5 companies that were (mistakenly) added who were accepted onto courses in the brief window they had we believe that they will not be expected to pay the cost of that mistake but it will not be EGF monies that pay for anything provided these individuals. There is also at least one case of a worker outside the Midwest being confirmed as eligible for the funding then starting a course only to be left with a bill after it turns out there was a mistake and he/she isn't eligible.

On Course Fees beyond June;

A year ago it was the general understanding among the authorities whom we were in touch with that (a) the fund would be closing in Sept of this year and that (b) courses for the year 2011-2012 would be paid for if the fund was billed before it was closed infact long term 3rd level courses were one of the main areas of the Irish application to the fund.
Both of those turned out to be incorrect but it was not made clear to anyone until much later into the running of the fund that this was going to be a problem. Official instruction was not issued to the public colleges until the 10th of Dec 2010 when the HEA issued them an update telling them 2011/12 was no longer available under the fund.

The fund was applied for in June of 2009 but as well all know nothing really started happening until Feb/March of 2010 when the coordination office was setup in the granary building in Limerick, in the case where a state(Ireland) takes longer than expected to get measures in place then the 24 month clock on the fund may be started from date when measures start and not when the application is made. This extension cannot exceed 3 months. This was not applied for as we were either too late being outside the 3 months or things were deemed to be running from that date. People who started courses in 2009 were able to claim reimbursement in 2010 meaning that the fund was infact running from the date it was supposed to be in June of 09.

The regulation which this was derived from is the following:
The Member State(s) shall carry out all eligible actions included in the coordinated package of personalised services as soon as possible, but not later than 24 months after the date of application pursuant to Article 5, or after the date of commencement of these measures provided that the latter date falls no later than three months after the date of application.

Current situation: People have signed up for courses and were never told that they would only be funded up to June 2011 because the authorities had it wrong. We are all but certain that the EGF will not fund any course beyond 2011 but we may be able to get the State to provide some help. It is worth remembering that 35% of the money in the fund originated from the Irish state and if the money in the fund is not spent then all of it wont be going to Brussels. 35% will be returning to Dublin and given the current spend figures it might well be enough to fund continuing education but it is something that the Next Government will have to agree to do.

Best Regards

Dell Redundant Workers Association

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