SIPTU has written to the Minister for State for Training and Skills, John Halligan, today (Friday, 1st July) calling on him to ensure that Industrial Training Orders for commis chefs and Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers are not signed off until there is adequate consultation with workers’ representatives SIPTU Services Division Organiser, Ethel Buckley, said: “As the sole recognised employee representative body for workers employed as HGV drivers and commis chefs, we are concerned at the failure to consult with SIPTU on the proposal for statutory apprenticeships for these jobs. “This failure to consult with representatives of workers in these jobs is contrary to the expressed provisions of the Industrial Training Orders. These state they have been drawn up following the consultation or involvement of the representatives of ‘substantial numbers of persons employed in such activities’. “However, SIPTU only met with officials from SOLAS, the training authority which devised these proposed apprenticeship schemes in conjunction with employer representative bodies in these industries, after the Industrial Training Orders were drawn up. That is not proper consultation and we consider this a breach of the Industrial Training Act.” SIPTU Sector Organiser, Denis Hynes, said: “Apprenticeships for commis chefs must provide real training and must be a learning experience rather than a way of getting new entrants to do the same work as their colleagues for scant pay. In order to prevent this, and a resultant displacement of workers, a proper system of supervision is essential.” He added: “It must also be ensured that an apprenticeship scheme offers a realistic career path for workers. As we understand it the current proposal does not clearly chart a pathway for progression to qualifications at a higher level or transition to permanent employment.” SIPTU Sector Organiser, Teresa Hannick, said: “For HGV drivers, the issue of health and safety is paramount for SIPTU. It must be ensured that any apprenticeship does not accelerate the current race to the bottom in standards in the industry, in particular, the exceeding on limits of working hours. “The three-year duration of the proposed scheme is also longer than the norm in Europe for training HGV drivers. SIPTU is convinced that there is not an acceptable rationale behind this length of apprenticeship.” SIPTU representatives have also requested an urgent meeting with Minister Halligan and officials from the Department of Education and Skills to discuss the proposed apprenticeship schemes. This follows on from a preliminary meeting in Waterford with the Minister this morning (Friday, 1st July).