Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle: Local Employment Services must be protected from privatisation

Pringle: Local Employment Services must be protected from privatisation

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said Local Employment Services must be protected from privatisation.

Addressing the Dáil on Tuesday, Deputy Pringle said: “I was extremely concerned to hear about the new tendering process the Minister for Social Protection is introducing, which favours for-profit providers over the current community-focused, not-for-profit providers.

“This will affect those working in Local Employment Services and jobs clubs who have been loyal to the service for years, and whose livelihoods are now potentially at risk,” he said.

The deputy said: “I have been contacted by staff in my constituency who are incredibly concerned. Services in areas such as Donegal are ending on the 31st of December with no plan in place for the demobilisation of the service. This would be a huge blow to our community.

“The staff here have been left in limbo as they have not been informed of any new job opportunities or any potential redundancy that may be offered. It is completely unacceptable to have staff left in the dark, not knowing whether they will have a job come the new year.

“The minister obviously has no sympathy or care for the stress and anxiety this is causing people and I would urge the minister to give reassurances to these staff members as soon as possible,” he said.

The deputy said that allowing a tendering process for the provision of these essential public services also fails to recognise the crucial knowledge and skills the staff in this sector have to support jobseekers, particularly those furthest from the labour market.

Deputy Pringle said: “I completely disagree with allowing private companies to bid for state contracts. How many times must we allow this to happen before we realise that this just doesn’t work? We only have to look at the disastrous roll-out of fibre broadband in this country to see that.

“It is clear that privatisation does not work and it does not work in community services. I urge the minister to commit to continuing to provide community-based, not-for-profit services to the local jobseekers in our communities,” he said.