Staff devastated and ‘kept in the dark’ over 39 job loses
Larry O’Neill, CEO at SDC South Dublin County Partnership

Staff devastated and ‘kept in the dark’ over 39 job loses

UP TO 39 staff were told they were made redundant this week at Local Area Employment Services (LAES) and Jobs Clubs in Tallaght and Clondalkin.

What has hurt staff even more than the loss of a job, many have worked at for over 20 years, is that they have been “kept in the dark”.

“It is devastating – we don’t understand why. Most of the staff are working here 19-25 years,” said a Clondalkin staff member, employed by SDC Local Employment Service for over 20 years.

“It is a role I loved and was committed to. During that time I worked with unemployed/marginalised groups of people, I have assisted and supported them in returning to employment/education and training.

“All our devices were taken off us last week, including mobiles, all our contact information is done through our work devices. Why let the general public be without services.”

Nationally there has been a reorganisation of local employment services, with local providers retendering for the contract with the Department of of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

The Clondalkin and Tallaght services are managed by development company South Dublin County Partnership, and although successful in securing a new contract, the Partnership say budget cuts and new work criteria restrictions, have contributed to the move and redundancies on August 31.

Larry O’Neill, CEO at SDC South Dublin County Partnership, said their budget is being cut from €9.6m to €5.9m over the next four years, and that the State is “treating the voluntary sector with contempt”.

“We can’t get walk-ins. We are now being paid for referrals only. Our referrals are being reduced from 3,300 a year to less than 1,500 – a 50 per cent reduction. We are not allowed to earn off clients. We can’t make a profit or access resources and have to pay out redundancy costs.”

Mr O’Neill said the company is €450k in debt and will have to go to the Redundancy and Statutory scheme.

“My heart breaks for our dedicated staff, who have always shown huge empathy and dexterity, and through no fault of their own, are losing their jobs. These are highly skilled people, much sought after,” he said.

The Clondalkin staff member feels their job losses are an “isolated case”, on the understanding that “all” other Partnerships in the country have retained their current staff.

Mr O’Neill said he has heard of redundancies in “at least six” other partnerships.

TD Eoin Ó’Broin (SF), who has been working on the case for staff with his colleague TD Mark Ward, said it is their understanding from talking to services, and to their own party colleagues involved in social protection, that they are “not aware of other redundancies” around the country.

“We understand the tender is lower, and voluntary redundancies were offered, those who could take it did, and those who didn’t want it, were kept on,” said Deputy Ó’Broin.

“The idea that 39 people are without any sort of clarity or certainty all summer, is unacceptable. Myself and Mark Ward are meeting Larry O’Neill and management next week.

“We are keen to establish who is responsible. We are aware the Department is responsible, but that does not absolve the Partnership, with regard to staff being kept in the dark.

“The employer should call all staff into a meeting and tell them what they know. We will listen to concerns by the employer and take it further to the Department and relevant Ministers if we have to. The Dail opens again in two weeks.”

Speaking to The Echo on Wednesday, the now former Clondalkin staff member, said they all received a generic letter in the post that morning from the Partnership.

“It is written with words like ‘dear all’, and ‘valued employee’ and refers to ‘he/she’, Jesus Christ, could you not give me some respect at all,” said the former staff member.

“We are not getting any sort of communication at all.”

The LAES and Jobs Club have offices in Tallaght and Clondalkin, plus outreach services in areas like Lucan, Rowlagh and Blessington.

The Echo understands existing clients at these services will be redirected to the nearest Intreo offices.

Of the 39 staff, Mr O’Neill said where they can, they will try and make “alternative arrangements” for possibly 4/5 people to take up other roles in the Partnership, and there will be a few retirements, but ultimately at least 30 people are out of work this week.

“It’s awful stuff, but I’m hopeful that we will be taking some of them back in time,” he said.

The LAES provides clients with support and guidance to get back into employment through one to one career guidance, information and training, education options and employment opportunities.

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