Community employment staff protest “imminent threat of privatization”
Several hundred workers from local employment services and employment clubs are due to hold a work stoppage and a protest outside Leinster House in Dublin on Monday against what they called “an imminent threat of privatization”.
The Siptu and Fórsa unions, which represent the workers, will ask Taoiseach Micheál Martin to intervene personally in the conflict.
Monday’s action is one of the first industrial relations shutdowns and protests since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic almost 18 months ago.
The unions are calling for an immediate end to what they claim are measures allowing private companies to bid, through a competitive bidding process, for new contracts with the state to run programs of help people to re-enter the labor market.
Unions argue that the new tendering process favors for-profit providers over the current community-based, non-profit service.
They argue that this would lead to “privatization, job losses and a reduction in the employment service unless the government changes course.”
Adrian Kane, Organizer of Public Administration and Community Division of Siptu, said: “Our action, supported by both unions and employers, is to highlight the decision of Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys , modify the tendering process for the supply of these essential elements. local employment services. The reality is that these workers and local development companies have been providing these essential public services for over 25 years with great success and now, after all these years of good and loyal service, they have no choice but to go downstairs. on the streets to fight for their jobs. and livelihoods.
He said calls for an urgent meeting with the minister had “been consistently met with silence”.
“It is neither acceptable nor sustainable. What is needed now is for the Taoiseach to step in and establish a real stakeholder forum to agree on a fair way forward. If this does not happen, this dispute will only escalate and it will undoubtedly have an impact on these essential community services. “
Fórsa official Lynn Coffey said jobs had already been lost and more were at stake if the planned changes continued “with the prospect of staff being laid off as early as January”.
“At the very least, wages and working conditions are likely to be drastically reduced. “
Speaking ahead of a protest, the local Mayo Employment Service official Orlagh Denneny said: “Privatizing these essential services would be a travesty. Privatization does not work in community services. This results in chronic long-term unemployment and subsequent social problems for people who have many barriers to employment.
Responding to questions on the matter at the Dáil in July, the minister said that she was obliged, for “the rules of good governance and public procurement”, to launch a call for tenders for the local services of the ‘use.
Ms Humphreys insisted that “it is wrong to view this tender as a shift from a not-for-profit model to a pay-for-performance model.”
She added: “I have to go out for a tender”, but “we have emphasized the links with the suppliers in the local community and there is no reason why they cannot continue to to succeed”.
The Ministry of Social Protection said in July that, as part of its economic recovery plan, the government has committed to increasing the resources devoted to the provision of employment services within its own Intreo service, and to extend the coverage of local employment services to areas that are not currently covered by existing providers.
“The department has already increased its own number of case officers and launched a call for tenders [RFT] expand local employment services in some areas where there is currently no local employment service.
He said the RFT was required to comply with European Union procurement rules and had no impact on the contracts of existing suppliers who were encouraged to respond to the process.