LES strike shows concerns of unions and employers must be addressed

06 September 2021

In solidarity with those striking from the Local Employment Services against the proposed privatisation tender, Labour Party spokesperson on social protection Seán Sherlock said today’s strike must be a wakeup call for the Minister to address the concerns of the proposed new tender for local employment services. Deputy Sherlock called on the Minister to meet with stakeholders to hear their concerns in advance of any tender being published.

Deputy Sherlock said:

“Today’s strike highlights the genuine fears of supervisors and administrative staff in local employment services and job clubs around the country. These workers are fearful that they are going to lose their jobs. There are many services that these workers provide in assisting people’s transition into full time employment or additional training that are not quantifiable in monetary terms. The Minister needs to stop and think about this process and ensure that the baby is not thrown out with the bathwater.

“One person I know has been working in the system for over 25 years which showcases the institutional knowledge and know-how these workers have built up on behalf of the State. I share the genuine concerns raised regarding the move to a metric based system for monitoring the service provided. Anyone who believes that the work these people do can be pulled simply onto a spreadsheet fundamentally misunderstands the work that they do. Workers are concerned that the net effect of the creation of a new service will be that a set of metrics will be put in place which specifies impractical and unrealistic targets and milestones and if they do not reach those milestones, payments or other services will be cut off from them.

“The Minister must meet the ILDN and trade union representatives following the outcome of the first request for tender process and before the second request for tender process begins. There must be learnings from the first request for tender process. Huge progress could be made if the Minister would personally meet with trade union representatives and the ILDN. We need to have a stop and think process that ensures that we don’t monetise the service in a way that you lose job and take the heart out of the service.”

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