Politicians voiced their opposition to any move towards the privatisation of Local Employment Services (LES) in Mayo and Galway at a virtual meeting hosted by SIPTU representatives yesterday (Thursday 27th May) evening. The meeting was attended by SIPTU members employed by Local Development Companies and LES in Mayo and Galway, as well as Fianna Fáil TDs, Dara Calleary and Eamon O’Cuiv, Sinn Féin TDs, Rose Conway-Walsh and Mairead Farrell, Fianna Fáil Senator Ollie Crowe, Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly and Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon.   The meeting discussed the decision by the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, to tender for private for-profit companies to design and commission a new model for delivering community level LES. SIPTU activist and a LES Manager in county Mayo, Orlagh Denneny, said: “Privatising services like this would be a travesty as privatisation does not work in a community setting.  Pulling the service from its experienced providers during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic will exacerbate the unemployment crisis.”  SIPTU activist and a LES staff member in county Galway, Vicky Trayner, said: “The Minister has stated that this tender would be attractive to Local Development Companies but their community-based ethos will now be placed in competition with private companies.” Fianna Fáil TD, Dara Calleary, said: “I am very concerned that the holistic approach may be abandoned and after hearing the statements and testimonials of the staff, I am struck by the length of service, commitment and experience of the workforce. You can’t put a value on this.”   Sinn Féin TD, Mairead Farrell, said: “The current delivery model works and if it’s not broken why try and fix it.” Fianna Fáil TD, Eamon Ó Cuiv, said: “I sit on the Oireachtas Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection. No one on the Committee agrees with this proposal and the issue of tendering out these local employment services to private companies has been debated continuously with the Minister.” SIPTU Organiser, Ann O’Reilly, said: “LES have been delivering guidance, training and placing people in jobs for over 25 years. Those they have assisted include the long-term unemployed, early school leavers, people with disabilities, small holders and people coming off carers leave. It is a vital community service that should not be turned over to private companies.” SIPTU Organiser, Clement Shevlin, said: “SIPTU members will continue to campaign against any plans to privatise community job activation services. We are calling on the government to halt the fire-sale of these essential local community services.”