The marketisation of the community sector will seriously damage the provision of employment services, a webinar organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has been told. “The webinar hosted by the ICTU yesterday (Tuesday, 27th July), attended by trade union activists from across the community sector, was addressed by leading academics, practitioners and trade union organisers within the sector who cautioned against the marketisation of the community sector. Brian Harvey, a leading independent social policy researcher, said that Ireland is an outlier in Europe when it comes to its interaction with the community sector. This was no more evident than in the government’s current proposals for the tendering of local employment services. “The commissioning process is often the beginning of the full privatisation of social services,” said Paul O’Sullivan, former CEO of Clann Credo. “The terms used often cause confusion but the intent is to marketise what were previously community provided social services,” he said. SIPTU Public Administration Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “The trade union movement needs a vision for the community sector and more work must be done to develop a comprehensive policy in relation to it and for social inclusion. “The decision by Laois/Offaly community-based employers not to submit a tender for phase 1 of the new National Regional Employment Service does not augur well for community-based providers if phase 2 of the tendering process is to proceed in the Autumn.” Other services, including in the North-West, are submitting tenders, contrary to a previous statement by the union, Adrian Kane said.