About Congress Centres Network
The Congress Centres Network (formerly the ICTU Network of Unemployed Centres) came into being during an era of mass unemployment in the 1980s. The Centres were established to provide support, resources and a range of services to the growing numbers of unemployed workers, many of whom were trade union members. Centres also served as campaigning organisations on issues around unemployment, poverty and social exclusion.
From the very start Centres have been closely associated with local Trades Councils who have been largely responsible for their establishment, management and development. Along with unions representatives and community activists, Trades Council continue to play a pivotal role in the work of Centres.
As the economic and social climate in Ireland underwent rapid change in the 1990s, Centres had to adapt quickly to new circumstances in order to remain relevant and viable. As a result appropriate service provision has become even more important. In particular, many Centres excel in the areas of IT training, up-skilling/re-skilling and job seeking supports.
Centres have also looked to become even more integrated within the wider trade union movement and to heighten their public profile as trade union Centres within the community.
Over the years Centres have become firmly embedded within their local communities and provide a very valuable link between the trade union movement and the wider community. In the past few years the Congress Centres Network has undergone major structuring and reorganisation to maximise the collective strength and voice of centres, and to build its capacity and sustainability to meet current and future challenges. At the core of this strategy has been the strengthening and development of the link between Centres and the wider trade union movement.
The Congress Centres Network comprises of twenty three Centres around Ireland (see the 'Full List of Centres' for their contact details). Each Centre is a company limited by guarantee which is managed by a fulltime Co-ordinator and a voluntary Board of Management made up mainly of local Trades council and other trade union and community representatives. The Network is co-ordinated, supported and developed by a team of dedicated staff based at Congress.
The Congress Centres Network works to represent and further the interests of the trade union movement at local level in pursuit of a just society which recognises the rights of all workers and citizens while supporting and servicing:
- workers out of and in employment, including the migrant labour force;
- union members;
- members of local communities and those experiencing disadvantage and social exclusion
The Congress Centres Network will strive to achieve social cohesion and social justice by upholding the values of solidarity, fairness and equality through training, education, advocacy and other services in communities.