By a Newsnet reporter
Labour run Glasgow Council has come under fire after making six apprentices redundant despite there being vacancies at the local authority.
According to The Glaswegian newspaper, the apprentices completed their training in the expectation of being employed by the council but have instead been refused employment.
However a Unison official slammed the decision after it emerged that there are vacancies in the department that would have matched the white-collar skills the youngsters had acquired.
According to The Glaswegian, the youngsters were on the Commonwealth Apprenticeship scheme – which was designed to combat youth unemployment – and they did their training in the council’s land and environmental services department.
Apprentices earn less than the minimum wage – £587 for a 140-hour month, which works out at just over £4 an hour. Union officials have accused the Labour run administration of using the scheme as cheap labour.
Speaking to the newspaper, one of the young workers said: “I left school after getting my Standard Grades because of the apprenticeship.
“My family encouraged me – they all said a council job was a job for life.
“Now I’m faced with signing on to the dole. It’s ridiculous that they’re laying us off when there are jobs they’re trying to fill.
“My family aren’t well-off and we all contribute to the household budget. Now I feel like I’m letting them down.”
Chris Stephens, of the union Unison, said: “The treatment of these six Commonwealth apprentices appears to be little more than cheap labour and is a potential abuse of public money.
“Glasgow City Council’s behaviour has forced the STUC to contact the Scottish Parliament Funding Board, addressing this matter at the highest level.
“We urge the council even at this very late stage to re-instate these apprentices and provide them with the opportunities that have been afforded to those undertaking youth training in the past.”
A council spokesman told the Glaswegian: “It is simply not possible to guarantee that everyone will find a job right at the end of their apprenticeship. However, they are much better placed to find jobs because they have been an apprentice.”
The revelation that apprentices have been forced onto the dole when vacancies exist will prove embarrassing to Council leader Gordon Matheson.
In April, the Labour leader pledged to “create jobs and apprenticeships for young people” if re-elected in May’s local elections. Despite a swing to the SNP, Labour returned the largest group to regain control of Scotland’s largest local authority.