Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on the Minister for Social Protection to make an urgent announcement on the results of a tender for employment services.
The call comes following significant delays to the announcement, which was due to be made public by the end of June. The delay has serious implications for providers of existing employment services, which are due to wrap up on August 31.
With no results, providers do not know if they have been successful in their tender application or if they will be providing employment services from September.
This means they may have to wind down their services by the end of August and possibly immediately ramp them up to provide a new service if their application is successful.
Teachta Kerrane said:
“The delays to the tender results announcement are yet another blow to current employment service providers, who have seen their services and jobs dismantled over the course of the past year.
“The delays affect up to 388 staff across 26 Local Employment Service (LES) branches and 40 Job Clubs across the state, who currently provide crucial and highly regarded community-based, not-for-profit employment services.
“It is bad enough that we are seeing this shift from community-based services to a profit-based model of employment services, which commodifies Jobseekers.
“Now, those who are currently working in this sector do not even know if they will have a job in less than two months’ time.
“It is deeply disappointing that staff, some of whom have worked in employment services for 25 years, are being placed under this significant stress. They deserve better.
“I realise that tender processes can take time, but the Minister has known about this tender for over a year now and her own Department has missed the deadline for the announcement, which was to be in June.
“Whether they are successful or not, there are significant practical and financial implications for providers in wrapping up current services. The longer the delay drags on, the harder it is for them to plan and to have the necessary plans in place by August 31.
“Through no fault of their own, LES branches and Job Clubs are in limbo. Some have had to issue termination notices to their staff, even though they do not know if they have been successful with the tender contract or not.
“I have raised the matter with the Taoiseach in the Dáil, and will seek further update from the Minister tomorrow [Thursday]. We need to know when the tender results will be announced, there is simply no more time to lose.
“I also urge the Minister to outline clearly what processes are in place to support providers with wrapping up their services as we approach the August deadline.
“Sinn Féin has opposed the dismantling of our community-based employment services from the start, and we continue to do so.
“However, at this stage it is important that the tender results are brought forward to ensure the best possible outcome for LES and Job Clubs staff and those who have relied on their services for decades.”