Sinn Féin TDs and councillors have signed a SIPTU petition calling on the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, to “respect community sector workers and meet their union”. Over 1000 people have signed the petition in response to Minister Hogan’s refusal to meet with SIPTU members to discuss their concerns over plans to align Local Development Companies (LDC) with Local Authorities. This alignment process will have major implications for jobs and services as well as removing control of services from local communities.Among the Sinn Féin delegation who met with community workers from the Canals Communities Partnership on Friday, (20th September) at the Bluebell Youth and Community Centre, Dublin 12, were TDs Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Dessie Ellis and Sean Crowe, along with councillors Críona Ní Dhálaigh, Ray McHugh, and Mícheál Mac Donncha.On behalf of the Sinn Féin group, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, said: “Our party fully supports the SIPTU Campaign to ensure that community workers have proper input into any changes in their sector. We believe it is essential that staff and the communities in which they work are fully represented and listened to during this important process.Canals Communities Partnership worker, Tommy Coombes, said: “The voice of workers must be heard at the appropriate level where policies are being decided and designed. In order for this process to be successful the knowledge that workers have accrued over the years needs to be represented.“In the Bluebell Community Development Project there are 23 workers who are passionate about their work and have much to say about proposed changes in the sector. The Department and Minister’s failure to engage with workers is creating fear and uncertainty.”SIPTU Organiser, Paul Hansard, said: “At a meeting scheduled to take place between SIPTU representatives and the Department of the Environment officials this week, we will request that Minister Hogan ends his lockout of workers and their representatives and immediately engages in negotiations to address the concerns of LDC workers and the communities they serve. Otherwise the Minister's plans for alignment will not work.”