Cope slams Government’s treatment of seasonal workers

first_imgDeputy Pat the Cope Gallagher has lambasted the Government for what he claims is their complete failure to address the needs and rights of the thousands of seasonal and part time workers.The West Donegal TD said the workers annually find it impossible to obtain social protection entitlements, when their seasonal or part time work ceases.He said an absolute commitment was given by the former Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar in the budget debate 2017 – that a full review and report would be compiled and completed by February / March. He said “This has been long fingered and buffed over by numerous Government representatives since and absolutely no action has followed on their part.“This report has been reneged by the Government despite the firm commitment given in the Dáil on 22nd November 2016 during a debate on the matter which I addressed personally on the matter.“Numerous Dáil questions on the matter and topical debates highlighting the workers concerns since were raised by me since but to no avail, the Government simply are not listening to the plight of the workers or if they are they are failing completely to take any action.“This entire process of reviewing seasonal workers’ rights has been nothing more than an empty promise given for cynical political purposes by a Minister who simply does not understand the ordinary people’s needs – there is a complete failure by this Government to understand the problems and difficulties facing seasonal and part time workers on a daily basis especially in west and south west Donegal. “It is a further example of how out of touch this Government is with rural matters and the struggle ordinary families have on a daily basis as a result of their policy decisions,” he fumed.Pat the Cope added not alone is the report going to be 8 months late but understands the report will not address the matters which directly affect the part time workers’ rights.He said these matters include the requirement to make 13 new contributions within the last 78 days of your existing claim, the need to maintain 117 contribution over a three year period to mention a few.“It appears that only the subsidiary income threshold which will be addressed and adjusted, this is very disappointing news but it is clear the Government just do not understand the problems and hardships facing seasonal workers.“The lack of knowledge of the ongoing problems and hardships by the various rule changes for seasonal workers is truly shocking; it is increditable that after years of highlighting the issues the Government still simply does not understand the problems which face seasonal and part time workers.“They continue to fail to take any action or to alleviate the problems and what is shocking is that the average annual income for these seasonal and part time workers could be as low as €5,000 to €7,000 on average and that social protection payments would top up their employment income.” He said he is now calling on the Government to wake up to the crises in the livelihoods of seasonal and part time workers and their families, which if not addressed will lead to a skills shortage in certain employment sectors notwithstanding the difficulties it is causing in households right through out Donegal and the west of Ireland.He added “The Government must honour their commitment to the Dáil and complete the review of workers’ rights as requested by me and outlined in great detail during the budget debates in November 2016 – nothing less will be tolerated and the seasonal and part time workers are entitled to their rights. Sufficient time has elapsed in order for the relevant Department and Minister to have dealt with this and provided a solution which would have helped seasonal and part time workers.”Cope slams Government’s treatment of seasonal workers was last modified: August 9th, 2017 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalGovernmentPat The Cope Gallagherseasonal workerslast_img read more

Microsoft tablets help Emirates customers work through laptop ban

first_imgEMIRATES has started loaning Microsoft Surface  tablets to customers on non-stop flights bound for the US so they can continue working.First and business class passengers will be able to borrow the complimentary tablets on flights from Dubai to the US, download their work to a USB drive and continue working. The tablets are equipped with Microsoft Office 2016 and a keyboard.The Emirates move comes after rival Qatar offered a similar loan service involving laptops to premium customers flying on its direct flights to the US.Both airlines have been caught up in a US ban requiring passengers on direct flights to the US from some Middle East and North African destinations to check-in laptops, tablets and other electronic devices bigger than a smart phone.The ban, which began March 25, has been widely criticised and the International Air Transport Association has urged authorities to find an alternative.US officials said the move stemmed from “evaluated intelligence”  that terrorists are increasing their focus on aviation.  Britain adopted a similar ban for some airports but excluded the big Gulf hubs in Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.Australia ramped up security requirements at the Gulf airports but stopped short of banning large devices in cabin baggage.Emirates has also introduced a laptop and tablet handling service for US-Bound passengers that allows them to use their devices in lounges and hand them in at the boarding gate.Available free to all classes, passengers must declare the devices and hand them over to security staff who then pack and tag the device for storage in the aircraft hold.The devices are returned to customers when they reach their US destination.The airline said almost 8,000 passengers have used the service on its 112 weekly non-stop flights to the US.Ironically, the US directive does not apply to Emirates flights travelling to the US via Milan and Athens. Nor does it apply to any flights to the affected destinations from the US.Separately, Emirates announced Thursday it would start a second daily flight to Bali using two-class  Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.The new flight starts July 2 and will offer connections to destinations across Europe.last_img read more

Free tertiary study on the cards

first_imgSouth Africa could well be on its way to providing free education for financially needy students.(Image: Bongani Nkosi)The South African government will take steps towards providing free tertiary education to financially strapped students, the ruling African National Congress announced in its annual statement on 8 January 2011. President Jacob Zuma said that undergraduate students using the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will be exempt from having to make loan repayments for their final year of study – if they complete the year successfully.While the scheme will at first only benefit final-year students, the overriding aim is to apply it to all years of tertiary study. “This model will be phased in over the next few years to include students in earlier years of study,” Zuma said.“We are committed to progressively introducing free education up to undergraduate level,” he added.NSFAS spokesperson Bonnie Feldman explained that additional funds will be injected into the loan scheme to settle students’ accounts for their final year, but they will still have to reimburse students for their first two years of study – she said the government will allocate an additional R750-million (US$109-million) to NSFAS for this.“This is to make sure that the students are able to graduate without much of a burden,” she said.The existing loan scheme currently converts 40% of loan repayments into bursaries for students at all levels of study who complete their courses successfully, but this settlement will now be upped to 100% for final year studies.NSFAS will now be liable for 60% of the fees of students who perform well. The funding covers tuition fees, accommodation and food expenses.Zuma explained that final-year students will “receive a loan equivalent to the full cost of study and necessary living expenses”.“If these students graduate at the end of the year, the loan for the final year will be converted into a full bursary. They will not have to repay the amount,” said Zuma.NSFAS exclusively provides funds for university students who cannot afford the fees.The ANC, which has been in government since 1994, committed to introduce free tertiary education in 2007 – this was one of its many resolutions adopted at it its 52nd national conference.The ANC Youth League welcomed the “gradual introduction of free education for the poor until undergraduate level,” Floyd Shivambu, the organisation’s spokesperson, said in a statement.“We welcome these interventions and hope that other measures will be introduced to ensure that free education is provided until undergraduate level for all academically deserving, yet poor students at all levels,” added Shivambu.Free education at public collegesEducation at Further Education and Training (FET) colleges will be completely free for students who qualify for financial assistance.FETs, which are popular among cash-strapped youngsters, are spread across the country with various campuses in some rural areas and townships.The government wants to attract more students to FETs, which churn out a significant number of professional artisans each year.The Department of Higher Education and Training is hoping to see at least 1-million students enrol at FETs every year from 2015.“We have to prioritise further education and training, and provide resources including expanding bursary schemes for supporting attendance at FET institutions,” Zuma said.The government spent about R1.9-billion ($276-million) on improving infrastructure and curriculums at FETs between 2006 and 2009.last_img read more

Pigs and politics come together in small town mayor’s office

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Lance Westcamp may be one of the few small-town mayors in central Ohio that can be found driving his tractor down Main Street and he is certainly the only one with an office full of champion hog banners from around the country.“I was born and raised on a farm just south of Groveport. I graduated from Groveport high school in ’75. I farmed 4,500 acres with my dad and brother — most of it rented — in mid-70s and my dad always had a commercial sow herd of 50 to 75 sows. Even the farm we lived on was leased from the state. Most of that ground now is warehouses,” Westcamp said. “We were losing acres to development so my brother and I got outside jobs in late-80s and early 90s. I continued to farm until 2013, but by then most of everything was being custom farmed.”With the future of the Franklin County farm destined for development as Groveport (and nearby Columbus) continued to grow, Westcamp thought he would give politics a try.“I got an urge to get into politics and back in ’87 I ran for City Council. There were six people running for six Council seats and I was the top vote getter atThe whole family gets involved in the hog business, including Lance’s granddaughter Sydney Westcamp, who took this piglet to school.222,” Westcamp said. “Then in 1994, I was president of the Council and became mayor after the other mayor resigned.”In addition to his part-time mayoral duties, Westcamp has worked for the Ohio Department of Commerce since 1998. Like the landscape around him, Westcamp has adapted and integrated into urban Ohio, but he has never strayed far from his roots in farming. Westcamp’s unique agricultural background amid a sea of urban sprawl has allowed him some unique opportunities“I still raise a little bit of sweet corn so I still need a tractor and we’ll bring it to the community once in a while,” he said.More notable than sweet corn, though, is Westcamp’s work with Landrace hogs.“I got my first set of Landrace hogs in 1972 and it was a breed I always enjoyed. They make great mothers and they are very content,” he said. “In 1972, the Franklin County Fair had a herd class with three females and a male. I drove the old pickup to New Knoxville and bought three Landrace gilts and a boar from Vernon Hite. Then I took them to the Franklin County Fair to show and we brought them home and that is how I got my Landrace start. Back when I gotWestcamp has a long line of champions, including the champion Landrace boar at the 2017 Ohio State Fair and the 2017 Indiana State Fair with two different boars.into them, there were so many. There were more then than there are now. In the 80s there were more Landrace at the State Fair than there are Yorkshires today.”The American Landrace breed has a white, long body, 16 or 17 pairs of ribs and a less-pronounced arch of back than other breeds. They have a long and narrow head with large, heavy ears and they are noted for meatiness. According to the National Swine Registry, Landrace are often used as grandparents in the production of F1 parent stock females that are utilized in a terminal crossbreeding program for commercial operations. They excel in litter size, birth and weaning weight, rebreeding interval, durability and longevity. They produce F1 females that exhibit 100% maternal heterosis when mated to a Yorkshire.“Landrace hogs are still out there doing what they are supposed to do for the big commercial guys,” Westcamp said. “But there are not as many Landrace show pigs as there used to be.”Westcamp sold all of his pigs around 1985, but got involved again when his children were in 4-H around in the mid-90s.“My son was probably 16 and we started tinkering around with Landrace when I bought a gilt. Then we started showing at the State Fair around 2002. We got to the point where the State Fair was about to do away with the Landrace show because they didn’t have any numbers,” Westcamp said. “They need so many in the class or they do away with the breed.”His proximity to Columbus allowed Westcamp to more easily address the challenge than some others would have been able to do.“I’m not saying they were all show quality, but we took 12 or so to the State Fair to keep the numbers up. We did that for four or five years and the numbers grew. My kids would take eight of the 12 and we had neighbor kids and we would put the pigs under their names. It was a lot of work, but we lived close by so we were able to do that,” Westcamp said. “The people at the State Fair appreciated what we were doing because they didn’t want to lose that breed from the show. The kids figured out that there are not that many Landrace hogs and your chances are better with Landrace if you want to take a barrow and they had a better chance to get money and a nice banner for winning.”Today, along with his son Mitchell who is a teacher and football coach at Groveport, Westcamp has stayed very competitive with his Landrace hogs through Westcamp Family Showpigs.“We have 14 landrace sows, which is unheard of for show pigs. That is probably the largest herd for Landrace show pigs in the country. We probably sell 25 to 35 club pigs a year,” he said. “My son and I really started working to better the breed in the late 90s. We had the champion Landrace boar at the Ohio State fair in 2004 and 2007 and we’ve had it the last six years in a row. We had the champion female in 2013. This year I had the champion boar at Ohio State Fair and then took a different boar to Indiana and had the champion boar at the Indiana State Fair.”The Westcamps have also seen the genetics of their hogs go on to have a broad impact in the industry.“In 2013 our Ohio State Fair champion boar, Shark Tank, sold to Upper Hand Genetics for $5,000 and has been prolific sire in the industry,” Westcamp said. “The Grand Champion Boar at the Ohio State Fair 2015 was selected to be display boar at the Hog College in Austin, Minn. at the National Barrow Show and they are on display and first to sell in the sale. He sold for $4,500 to a big commercial herd over there.”Westcamp was elected in 2010 to serve in the American Landrace Association Board of Directors.“That was a great honor. We’d meet once a year and go over breed characteristics. They have started a purity test and the quality of the Landrace has really come along. I’d put them up against the other breeds,” Westcamp said. “The Landrace breed is getting really big in the junior circuit. Louisville will have 60 good Landrace hogs in the Junior Summer Spectacular. The Landrace breed is something I’m proud of. I’m glad to see it where it is today.”The mayor of charming Groveport has built his livelihood around service to others off the farm, but the highlights of his career have been in the show ring.“We have done very well over the years showing our Landrace at the Ohio State Fair and the Indiana State Fair and around the country,” Westcamp said. “One of the best highlights of my career was talking my son into taking five gilts to the Ohio State Fair this year. They were all in the same class and I had five grandkids showing them. The oldest one was eight. They didn’t win, but my wife, who is not a pig person, watched the kids out there all showing at the same time and said, ‘Now I know what you are talking about.’”And Westcamp hopes that his urban connections and location can help him share that experience with others.“I don’t have a college degree but growing up on a farm and being very active in FFA and 4-H, I brought everything I learned there to running meetings as the mayor and running the community. Growing up in a farming community helped me and that is why I keep trying to get kids involved in 4-H. I love to work with kids in town who want a fair project. If a kid in Groveport or even Columbus wants a pig for a project but they don’t have a place to keep them, they can keep it at our place as long as they come out at least once a week to make sure everything is OK and feed and water and wash it. We want to educate the city kids and even rural kids who do not have livestock to be around the animals,” Westcamp said. “I am concerned with all of the lofts they are building in downtown Columbus and all of the places for the young people to move that those young kids will never see a field of corn or soybeans and won’t know where their food comes from. It all starts with agriculture.”last_img read more