SIPTU has welcomed a report, published by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands, on Local Employment Services (LES) and Job Clubs which supports the retention of these services in their current form. SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “The findings and recommendations of this report, which was published yesterday (Tuesday, 9th November), totally vindicate the position adopted by trade unions on this matter. “In light of the considered view expressed by members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee, the tendering process for LES and Job Clubs should be suspended and a stakeholder forum comprised of interested parties should be established to discuss the future of these essential community services. Among the recommendations contained in the report are that the LES and Job Clubs are retained in their current format. The Committee has also recommended that the legal advice received by the Department of Social Protection regarding the need to tender for employment services is published and that the tendering process for the operation of the Regional Employment Service is paused until all concerns are addressed. “The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, must listen to the public representatives elected by the people. There is no appetite for the privatisation of these services.”  He added: “Regrettably, SIPTU members employed in the county Laois and Offaly LES and Job Clubs have already been forced to ballot for strike action. This is due to the Government decision to terminate its contract with the existing not-for-profit community-based provider of these services, meaning our members will be unemployed before the end of 2021.”