Congress Centres Network

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The Congress Centres Network was established in 1985 when the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Youth Employment Committee and FAS worked together to identify a method of response to mass employment. This arose from the realisation that many workers on becoming unemployed had deep feelings of being alone, helpless and abandoned and that is was incumbent on the Trade Union Movement to do something concrete to provide practical assistance for unemployed workers. The original purpose of the centres was and remains today, the provision of basic practical assistance for unemployed people and the promotion of employment and social inclusion. The most important services provided by the Centre are welfare rights information, adult education and training and jobseeking supports.

This was a Trade Union response to the recession of the 80’s but intended for involvement of the entire community. In 1987 Social Welfare schemes and labour activation courses offered by FAS were promoted through the centres along with education services and recreational facilities.

Many of the centres provided Quality-Assured training under FETAC and are now in the process of re-engaging under the new arrangments put in Place by QQI.

The individual centres are set up as companies limited by guarantee and are governed by their own Boards of Management. Members of such Boards are volunteers running not-for-profit Centres with the obligations of employment law, Health and Safety Law and are responsible for entering into contracts for leases on premises and government contracts. The Centres are the shop window for the Trade Union Movement and all the benefits of being a member of a union are promoted and offered within the Centre. The Centres recruit over 400 people to join Trade Unions on an annual basis. Through CNN Trade Union officials are invited to speak with participants engaged in programmes and explain their rights in the workplace.