SIPTU representatives have today (Thursday, 15th April) written to the Minister of State with responsibility for Social Inclusion in the Department of Social Protection, Joe O’Brien, seeking a firm commitment to support the campaign to halt government plans to privatise community job activation services. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Jane Boushell, said: “The Minister’s contribution to the Social Inclusion Forum this week, his proposal for a solidarity tax and his many public statements about creating greater inclusion in communities by reducing the consistent poverty rate to 2% or less by 2025 are very much welcomed by SIPTU members. “However, we believe the actions taken by the Minister’s colleagues in government are not consistent with his fine words and plans. The reality is that the Department of Social Protection is currently tendering for the design and commission of a low cost model for delivering community job activation services. This plan would fundamentally alter how these essential services are provided and facilitate a race to the bottom by rewarding the cheapest bidder.” She added: “The current model has served communities and jobseekers extremely well since its inception in 1995. We believe a change to this model will not improve service levels and do little to enhance overall governance or inclusion. Our members working in these services have a long and proud tradition of building relationships with local employers and tailoring operations to local circumstances and people. We are asking the Minister to listen to the concerns of our members, to reach out to his government colleagues and support our campaign by doing all he can to stop the fire-sale of these essential local community services.”