SIPTU members must take the lead in developing public services but will continue to totally oppose their outsourcing to the private sector, SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, John King, told delegates attending the SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Conference in Cork today. King told the more than 170 union delegates gathered in the Imperial Hotel, Cork City, that “We know that demand for public and community services is due to dramatically increase over the next decade because of an ageing population, high rates of chronic illness and demographic issues. “The truly unacceptable aspect to this situation is that the Government, if it reads its own reports, knows about these looming problems but is still refusing to act.” King said that due to the short-term thinking of successive governments it was essential that union members play a more active role in developing plans to improve public services and such concerns would be to the fore in future public sector pay talks.  He said: “As part of our preparation for any such [talks] process, over the next 12 to 18 months we will be commencing a consultation with you, our public service members. I am asking you today, delegates, to work closely with us on this, as it is essential to us, as a Union, in formulating the best plan for progress that we can.” However, the union remains completely opposed to the outsourcing of public services to the private sector. He said: “In Local Government, Education and Community, we  know all too well the full costs of outsourcing, the commodification of our public services and the impact that has on our communities. This deterioration of services of course goes hand in hand with an increased  risk to jobs and the running down of the terms and conditions of workers.  “What outsourcing amounts to is an unacceptable risk to our society, to the delivery of efficient, effective and safe services to our citizens, and there is no starker example of this than the Cervical Cancer tragedy.”