Government must clarify future of employment services

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SIPTU and FÓRSA officials have expressed concern over the future of Local Employment Services (LES) and Job Clubs.

LIMERICK Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan has called on the Government to urgently engage with trade unions and organisations representing those working in employment services.

SIPTU and FÓRSA have requested a meeting with the Taoiseach to discuss the long running dispute with the Department of Social Protection over the future provision of Local Employment Services (LES) and Job Clubs.

This follows their claim that the Department of Social Protection has refused to engage in an exploratory talks process as proposed by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Deputy Quinlivan said: “The lack of engagement with unions and organisations representing staff working in employment services is simply baffling.

“Despite the importance of employment services, we have seen the government’s determination to proceed with selling off these crucial services and supports.

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In Limerick, these services have been crucial in assisting many in joining the workplace. Limerick has a huge number of unemployment black-spots and the importance of these services cannot simply be measured in terms of the confidence and esteem they offer many of the participants.”

Deputy Quinlivan said that Sinn Féin have called on the Minister Heather Humphreys to halt the process of tendering employment services many times, “but she chose not to listen”.

“She refused to listen to the staff, the unions, the cross-party Committee on Social Protection, the Public Accounts Committee and the will of the Members of the Dáil, who unanimously supported our recent Dáil Motion to protect the current not-for-profit community-based model.

“Limerick City has eight  of the ten worst unemployment black-spots in the State, so many people rely on the Local Employment Services as they look to return to the labour market.

“The Local Employment Services (LES) are crucial to those who are furthest from the labour market. Aside from providing the necessary skills that people need, they often offer hope.

“We are now in a position where many of the staff providing these community-based services face losing their jobs. It is simply not good enough. LES and Job Club staff have been let down by the government at every turn.”