SIPTU is launching a national campaign aimed at defending community jobs and services which are threatened by Government plans for the sector. SIPTU Sector Organiser Darragh O’Connor, said: “Up to 2000 workers in the community sector face an uncertain future as a result of plans announced by the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, to dismantle existing structures for community services.“The Local Government reform document, Putting People First, proposes an ‘alignment’ between Local Authorities and Local Development Companies that will have major implications for both workers and local community services.”Darragh O’Connor added: “Under the Minister’s plans the future of over 50 Local Development Companies is uncertain and his proposals to align these services within Local Government structures may also put millions of euros of European funding at risk.“The initial stage of the campaign will include  intensive lobbying of politicians and informing local communities of how the changes will effect vital programmes providing community development, education and employment supports. We will also be making clear to politicians the damage these plans will inflict on already disadvantaged communities who are suffering the worse effects of the recession.”SIPTU Shop Steward, Manus Bree, said: “Last Tuesday (26th February) Minister Hogan indicated in the Dáil his intention to ‘rationalise structures’ as part of this so called ‘alignment’ process. We know that this means job losses and reduced services for local communities. If his department is intent on making such big decisions about our jobs and our local services he needs to talk to the people at the coal face”.SIPTU Sector Organiser, Eddie Mullins, said: “The bottom up approach of independent Local Development Companies has been internationally recognised as a best practice model. The independent nature of these companies is also a stipulation for the continued receipt of millions of euros in European Rural Development funding.  Any change must consider the interests of communities and workers.  That’s why SIPTU is launching a campaign to defend these vital local services and jobs”.