SIPTU and Fórsa members, working in Local Employment Services (LES) and Job Clubs, have today (Monday, 6th September) delivered a letter to the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, calling on him to immediately intervene and save the vital services they provide. The letter was delivered to the Department of the Taoiseach, Government Buildings, Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2, by a delegation of more than 200 union members. This was followed by a rally which was attended by several Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour and People Before Profit elected representatives. SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “Our action has highlighted the decision by the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, to change the tendering process for the provision of essential local employment services. She has introduced a process which seeks to move the provision of these services from not for profit community sector providers to for-profit private companies. “The reality is that these workers and local development companies have very successfully provided this essential public service for over 25 years. In the face of an attempt to privatise the sector, they have been left with no other option but to take to the streets to fight for their jobs and the vital services they provide.” He added: “Calls from SIPTU and Fórsa representatives for an urgent meeting with the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, have consistently been met with silence. We are now calling on the Taoiseach to step in and establish a genuine stakeholder forum to agree a fair way forward for the sector. If this does not happen, this dispute will escalate further and will undoubtedly have an impact on these essential community services.” Fórsa official, Lynn Coffey, said: “Jobs have been lost already and more are on the line if this privatisation proceeds as planned. Vital community employment services will also be damaged at a time when over 300,000 people are unemployed or on PUP payments.” LES manager in county Mayo, Orlagh Denneny, said: “Privatising these essential services would be a travesty. Privatisation does not work in community services. It will result in chronic long-term unemployment and subsequent social problems for individuals who have many barriers to employment. Pulling the service now from safe hands, at a time when Covid-19 presents an employment crisis like never before, just beggars belief.”