The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has hit out at the government’s decision to slash the emergency coronavirus unemployment payment from €350 euro to €203 euro for primarily part-time workers.
President Lorna Fitzpatrick said, in an interview with The University Times today, that the cuts are “extremely worrying for students” and described the cuts as “completely unfair and very short-sighted”.
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe today announced that the cut would apply for those earning less than €199.99 a week prior to the crisis. People earning €200 a week would remain at the previous €350 rate.
As the majority of students work full-time hours during the summer months, Fitzpatrick said, “a lower payment is not representative of what they would be earning for this period or representative of what they need to be earning to be able to cover the cost of going to college”.
Fitzpatrick added that USI had submitted a paper to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection nearly two months ago, calling for the coronavirus unemployment payment to remain available for students.
The government did not, however, consult USI on the cuts to the unemployment payment, according to Fitzpatrick.
“This shouldn’t be a race to the bottom, we shouldn’t be thinking how little we can give people so that they can get through their daily lives”, she said.
In a press statement today, Fitzpatrick said: “The vast majority of students in Ireland would have taken on many more hours in employment during the summertime to pay rent, for living expenses and to save for the coming academic year.”
“It seems that the situation facing students just hasn’t been considered at all here”, she added. “We are calling for the payment that is made to students to be based on the increased hours they had planned for the summertime and allow them to receive the full payment of €350.”