Siptu staff in local employment services and jobs clubs set to go on strike in September

Union urges Minister to halt what it says is privatisation of local employment services

Siptu members protest earlier this month over plans for local employment services contracts, outside the Department of Social Protection, Dublin. Photograph: Damien Eagers

Siptu members protest earlier this month over plans for local employment services contracts, outside the Department of Social Protection, Dublin. Photograph: Damien Eagers

 

Staff working in local employment services and jobs clubs who are members of Siptu are set to go on strike in early September, the trade union has said.

Siptu said on Friday that as part of its campaign to halt what it described as the privatisation of local employment services, it was planned that nationwide industrial action in the area would commence on Monday, September 6th.

Siptu said this would be followed by another one-day stoppage on Monday, September 13th.

Siptu public administration and community division organiser Adrian Kane said: “More than 50 employments have been identified across the country which will now be balloted over the month of August. The intention on September 6th is for pickets to be placed at employment locations. In addition, protests will take place outside the constituency offices of the TDs of the Government parties. The intention is to also hold a protest outside the Department of Social Protection in Dublin on September 6th.”

He said Siptu members would continue to escalate their actions unless the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, “stops this proposed destruction of the employment schemes”.

Unions are calling for an immediate halt to what they maintain are moves to allow private companies to bid, as part of a tender process, for new State contracts to run programmes to assist people getting back into the workforce.

Responding to questions on the issue in the Dáil earlier this month, the Minister said she was obliged for “good governance and public procurement rules” to put the local employment services contracts out for tender.

Ms Humphreys insisted that “it is wrong to look at this tender as a move away from a not-for-profit model to a payment-by-result model”.

She added: “I have to put this out for tender”, but “we have put a strong focus on the connections with the local community providers and there is no reason why they can’t continue to be successful”.

Increasing resources

The Department of Social Protection said earlier in July that as part of its economic stimulus plan the Government had committed to increasing resources dedicated to the delivery of employment services within its own Intreo service, and to expand the coverage of the local employment services to areas not currently covered by existing providers.

“The department has already increased its own complement of case officer staff and has issued a request for tender (RFT) to expand local employment services in some regions where there is currently no local employment service.

“The RFT places due emphasis on the quality of services to be provided, while expanding the capacity of the public employment service. This RFT, which is required to comply with EU procurement rules, has no impact on the contracts of existing providers in other areas and local community and voluntary organisations were encouraged to respond to the RFT,” the department said.