Staff at local employment services and Job Clubs who are members of SIPTU have voted to take industrial action in a row over a tender for the expansion of the services.

The up to 300 workers impacted now intend to protest at locations across the country beginning on Monday September 6 and a meeting will take place tomorrow to decide what form the action will take.

The union is opposed to plans by the Department of Social Protection to tender for private companies to bid for state contracts to run the programmes.

The Government committed in its economic stimulus plans to grow the level of resources aimed at getting people back to work.

"Our members have been left with no option other than to begin a campaign of industrial action due to the failure of the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, to engage with them on the future of the sector," said SIPTU Sector Organiser, Peter Glynn.

"We are calling on the Minister to live up to the commitment she gave in the Dáil to immediately engage with stakeholders and not to proceed with a government tendering process for private companies to bid for state contracts to run programmes to assist people getting back into the workforce.

The union says it also wants a stakeholder forum to be set up to consider the future of the services, without the threat of privatisation hanging over them.

Staff in the services assist unemployed people with supports ranging from literacy to interview skills to job placement.

While the services are funded by the Department of Social Protection, the staff are not government employees.

The department has previously said that existing operations could apply under the proposed tender, and confirmed that again today.

It said it has commenced a phased procurement for employment services across the state, with phase one focused on a Regional Employment Service of four lots over seven counties in the Midlands and North-East, as they are areas that do not currently have such a service.

"Phase two will follow later this year with the aim of having services in place for January 2022," the department said in a statement.

"The Regional Employment Service is primarily aimed at cohorts furthest from the labour market and has been designed to be accessible to tenders from the community and voluntary sector, giving due regard to their experience and competencies."

It added that what it learned from the limited phase one procurement will be factored into the finalisation of the procurement process for employment services in 2022.

"The Department will again consult with its service partners prior to the finalisation of the process and has already advised their representatives accordingly. It will contact them in September to make the appropriate arrangements," it said.