Staff in health and social care organisations to ballot for all-out strike

Dispute arises from not getting pay cut restorations given to direct State employees

Siptu’s Paul Bell said  the failure of the Government to commit to a process to restore the pay of Section 39 organisation workers in line with HSE staff and others providing the same services was  unacceptable. Photograph: Eric Luke

Siptu’s Paul Bell said the failure of the Government to commit to a process to restore the pay of Section 39 organisation workers in line with HSE staff and others providing the same services was unacceptable. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Staff in the trade union Siptu who are working in State-aided organisations which provide health and social care services are to ballot for all-out strike next week.

The dispute at the organisations – known technically as Section 39 bodies – is over pay equality with staff working directly for the State.

Siptu has argued that while staff in State organisations providing such health and social services – known as Section 38 bodies – have received restoration of pay cut after the economic crash, those in Section 39 agencies have not.

Organisations in the latter category include Rehab Care and the Cheshire Foundation, which are national operations, Western care in Mayo, St Joseph’s Foundation in Cork, SOS Kilkenny, the Cork Association for Autism, Ability West, and St Aidan’s Hospital in Wexford.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said on Wednesday the failure of the Government to commit to a process to restore the pay of Section 39 organisation workers in line with HSE staff and others providing the same services was utterly unacceptable.

“The Government position is inexplicable when it is taken into account that the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has accepted that there is a ‘long-standing’ link between Section 39 workers and the public service which ‘should be honoured’. Minister of State with Responsibilities for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath, has also committed to support the call for pay equality for Section 39 workers.”

Unavoidable strike

Mr Bell said: “Since the beginning of our campaign for pay justice, the Department of Finance and the Department of Health have simply passed the buck between themselves, it would seem in a hope that the legitimate concerns of our members will just go away. That is not going to happen. Our members’ resolve is strong and the feeling on the ground is that a national strike next month is now unavoidable.

“However, there is still time for the Government to do the decent thing, to listen to reason and the numerous public representatives who support our members’ campaign.

“The Government must commit to dialogue and a process of restoring our members’ pay. If this is not done, our members will have no option but to engage in industrial action which will unfortunately impact services and service users.”

The HSE has said it has not received money from Government to allow organisations which it funds to restore pay cuts imposed after the economic crash.