Galway-based SIPTU members have welcomed the decision of the Department of Social Protection (DSP ) to partially restore material and training funding to Galway Community Employment Schemes. This decision will ensure schemes will remain open and continue to deliver vital services to local communities.
Community Employment employs 1600 people across Galway city and county and delivers a range of crucial services including childcare, elder care, disability, drug rehabilitation and environmental work.
At a meeting earlier this month officials at the Department of Social Protection confirmed to a CE union delegation that the total materials and training budget for 2012 will be €20.5 million, an increase of €9.5 million over the previous allocation announced at Budget time. This welcome decision will ensure that no CE scheme will close in 2012.
The decision of the DSP to review its allocation follows an intensive seven month trade union led “Save Our Schemes” campaign. SIPTU members and activists brought their message to politicians at a recent Open Day in the city which attracted hundreds of visitors including a large number of local politicians from all parties. There was also a key engagement with Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton at an early stage of the campaign.
“Government and opposition TDs heard first hand from workers the impact of cuts and the likely closure of schemes if action wasn’t taken” according to CE worker and SIPTU activist Peter Connolly. “This is recognition of the crucial role that Community Employment plays not only in the provision of vital services, but also in helping people get back to work. It also shows why community sector workers need to get organised to defend jobs and services”
SIPTU Organiser Diane Jackson also welcomed the commitment of the Department of Social Protection to a further review with regard to CE and Community Childcare. “If the Minister is to meet her stated aim of a Scandinavian model of childcare the potential role of Community Employment has to be fully realised”.