Staff in State-funded bodies ‘should get public service pay’

Impact says funding of care service agencies is ‘out of date’

 

Terms and conditions of staff working in the community and voluntary sectors and funded by State grant aid should be placed on a par with those in the public service, a trade union has urged.

Impact said State funding arrangements for such organisations - which includes those who provide services to the homeless, older people in care, people with disabilities, drug abusers and children from disadvantaged backgrounds - “lacked credibility and were out of date”.

There are nearly 2,000 different organisations that are funded under Section 39 of the Health Act, providing services defined in legislation as being “ancillary” to mainstream health services provided by the HSE.

Impact organiser Joe O’Connor said union members working for Section 39 organisations had “been subject to a continued stagnation and retrenchment of their terms and conditions throughout the recession”.

The chair of Impact’s Healthand Welfare division, Tony Martin, said the capacity of the Section 39 sector to play a strong and progressive role in service delivery had been severely tested in recent years.

“Sustained cutbacks have been accompanied by an increased demand to deliver. Employees are increasingly expected to do more with less and for less. This presents challenges both in terms of service delivery, as well as the retention of experienced and committed staff.”

Impact on Tuesday published a report on rebuilding and refinanancing the community and voluntary sector.

Mr O’Connor said this study, commissioned from researchers at the University of Limerick, showed existing funding structures were no longer suitable.

“We need a revised funding model in order to ensure agencies in the community and voluntary sector can continue to meet modern service delivery demands in a sustainable way.”

The report found, despite a sustained period of funding cuts, community/voluntary sector organisations continued to provide essential services at a highly professional level

It said the organisations were providing vital services to citizens who otherwise would not receive that service and that these were provided in place of State services, on behalf of the State.

The report said: “Staff have carried the burden of maintaining service delivery over a sustained period and have experienced wage cuts and freezes.

“Some have also experienced cuts to working hours, take on extra work for the same or reduced pay, while many have had to take unpaid leave. The extent of cuts has varied, with inconsistency in administrative procedures and decision making processes across sectors and regions and between different health offices.”

The report recommended State funding for these organisations should be “gradually restored”. It called for the restoration of pay and conditions for staff in Section 39 bodies “without additional productivity demands”.

The document also said staff in Section 39 organisations should progress on pay scales comparable with those of counterparts in the public service and in organisations funded on a contract basis by the State to provide specific services.

Impact said that examples of Section 39 organisations included Ability West, Peter McVerry Trust and Enable Ireland