Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on Minister Humphreys to urgently engage with sector representatives around her plans for the future of Local Employment Services and Job Clubs.
Teachta Kerrane reiterated her call following today’s organised National Day of Protest against the harmful proposals to commercialise employment services.
The protest was organised by those working in Local Employment Services (LES), Job Clubs and organisations including Irish Local Development Network (ILDN), the Job Clubs National Committee, SIPTU, and Fórsa.
Speaking after the protest today, Teachta Kerrane, said:
“For 25 years LES and Job Clubs have been providing valuable employment services to those seeking employment, including vulnerable groups and those returning to the workforce after longer periods of time, including Carers and Lone Parents.
“The recent Request for Tender (RfT) has put forward a commercialised, profit-driven model of employment services which not only threatens the crucial wrap-around supports these organisations currently offer, but which has also locked many existing services out of the tendering process.
“Concerns about the impact of these proposed changes were raised repeatedly with the Minister before and throughout Phase One of the tender process, which concerned seven Counties. While the deadline for applications for this phase of the tender has now passed, these concerns continue to grow as the second phase approaches. Phase Two calls for applications regarding provision of employment services in all other Counties in the State.
“Shifting to an employment service model which is profit-focused, has no proven results and quite literally places quantity over quality. This approach is unacceptable and will not support sustained employment.
“The proposed changes encourage a ruthless shift to ‘services’ which focus on profit over people. This is not the person-centred approach so successfully fostered by the LES and Job Clubs.
“Sinn Féin have long campaigned against privatisation of job activation services, like the disastrous JobPath scheme, which has cost close to €300m since 2015. We remain strongly opposed to the government’s most recent move to commercialise those seeking employment.
“As we have heard at today’s protest, employment services and the people they support are not for sale.
“Despite this, the Minister has still not responded to calls to revoke the tender and to engage with those who are delivering these vital employment services.
“Her resistance tells us that she knows the proposed changes are not welcome, and that the government’s proposed model puts profit margins above the needs of ordinary people.
“It is crucial that the Minister engage with representatives working in employment services immediately to put a stop to this harmful process of privatisation. I again reiterate my call to Minister Humphreys to come to the table.”