Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen has said the treatment of community sectors workers by Environment Minister Phil Hogan is disgraceful. The Minister is pressing ahead with the alignment of Local Development Companies (LDCs) with Local Authorities without engaging with staff and their representatives.
Deputy Cowen commented: “When this Minister initially announced this proposal I was supportive of the principle but I specifically pointed to the need for engagement and that this would be done on a consensual basis. Now the Minister just seems to be ignoring workers and their representatives.”
Local Development Companies work on the delivery of key programmes in community across the country including LEADER, the Rural Social Scheme which has 2,600 places, the Local Development Programme as well as Tús with 5,000 places and a further 2,500 to come on stream. They are supporting thousands of people and essential projects.
Deputy Cowen said: “I met yesterday with SIPTU representatives who explained the concerns workers have. While the Department of the Environment is not the employer here it has huge influence in LDC and has a responsibility to engage with employers and workers. They are also seeking a cost benefit analysis of the proposed transfer of functions from LDCs to local authorities.
“The fact that the Minister refuses to engage with the sector is leading many to question his motives on this issue. I still support the principle of what it is the Minister is trying to achieve but he is failing to engage and bring the workers with him. I am urging the Minister meet with worker representatives to hear their concerns and act on them.
“Local Development Companies are a key pillar behind the delivery of services such as LEADER and the Rural Social Scheme. I am concerned that the Minister’s actions here could undermine the full delivery of these projects for the community and he should re-examine the course of action he’s taking.”