Free service could suffer in Government privatisation
There are serious concerns over the future of one of the town’s unemployment service agencies because of the Government’s plans to privatise the service of Jobs Clubs such as the Drogheda Jobs’ Club. It is acknowledged that over the years the Drogheda Jobs Club has provided invaluable assistance to the unemployed.
All of its services are free upon registration and literally hundreds of jobless have benefited from the service over the years with assistance to secure employment through helpful courses and career advice.
The Department of Social Protection’s main external contracted employment services providers (Local Employment Services, Jobs Clubs and Job Path) will expire at the end of this year.
As distinct from the present independent system involving many Jobs Clubs who are operated by voluntary Boards, the government have introduced a private tender procurement process which will virtually eliminate present independent voluntary Jobs Clubs Boards from tendering for, or, renewing their present contracts.
“The new Employment Service the Department of Social Welfare is tendering for will instantly close our Jobs Club and deprive Drogheda of yet another vital facility which has been of enormous benefit and excellently operated by our staff over the years,’ says Seamie Briscoe, Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Drogheda Jobs Club.
“The timing of this could not be worse as our community faces into a post-Pandemic unemployment crisis. This move will deprive those unemployed due to COVID, the long term unemployed, carers and other cohorts, removed from the jobs market, of access to a walk-in, person centred, community based employment service and all the advice and supports that such a service provides. Instead, jobseekers will be faced with a centralised profit-driven, results based process which will not be available to all jobseekers. It beggars belief that the Department would move to dismantle such important services for those without work at such a critical time”.
The Drogheda Job Club has been assisting those who have found themselves unemployed to get back on their feet and find jobs since 2005, and even during the tough times of lockdown, have adapted to ensure there is no break in their support.
Labour TD Ged Nash also expressed his dismay at the threat.
“The move by this government to put the contracts out to tender could not come at a worse time for out of work citizens, especially younger workers who have been particularly scarred by the impact of the pandemic on sectors of the economy where huge concentrations of under 25s had worked pre-Covid 19,’ says Deputy Nash. “The experience and local knowledge of Jobs Clubs and LES staff is second to none. They know the needs of those most distant from a job and have the skills; networks and expertise to get people back to work.
“I fully support the actions planned by staff and there is still time for the government to change course on this.”
SIPTU & FORSA have balloted Jobs Club staff on strike action and this will take place on the 7th and 13th of September throughout the country.