SIPTU and Fórsa members employed in local employment services (LES) and Job Clubs are losing confidence in the ability of the Department of Social Protection to manage these vital social services following a further change in the contracts for their provision. SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “The Department of Social Protection has, without consultation, extended the contract of the current providers of LES and Job Clubs until August. This is yet another example of times for the deadlines concerning the operation of these services being unilaterally changed by the Department. “This reactive and last minute approach shown by the Department is incredibly unfair to our members, many of whom will lose their jobs as a result of the planned tendering process for the provision of these services.” He added: “Our members need to plan for their futures. They need definitive timelines. At the very least there should be an extension of these contracts until the end of the year. This would allow time for a proper stakeholder process to be established and to agree a way forward for the provision of these vital social services.”  Fórsa Assistant General Secretary, Lynn Coffey, said: “SIPTU and Fórsa have been steadfast in their opposition to the marketisation of the current services. We have called for a minimum extension of the current contracts until the end of the year in light of the Ukrainian refugee crisis. To continue with the marketisation of these critical services as we enter into a very unpredictable economic period goes against all logic.  “The approach of privatising these services, adopted by Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, has no political support apart from among a handful of hard-line ideologues within Fine Geal. It is clearly not in the interest of the most vulnerable within our society to have these services cease at this time.”  She added: “What the Minister should be doing is seeking to implement the nine recommendations from the Report on the Examination of Employment Services in November 2021 published by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands.”