Therapists and other health staff seeking pay rises following recent deal with nurses

Fórsa members also look for reduction in working week to 35 hours

The conference passed a motion calling on the union, in the wake of the concessions secured by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation in its recent dispute, to pursue a claim for a similar deal.

The conference passed a motion calling on the union, in the wake of the concessions secured by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation in its recent dispute, to pursue a claim for a similar deal.

 

Health service staff are seeking pay rises on foot of the Government’s recent deal with nurses and are also to look for a shorter working week.

Delegates at the Fórsa trade union health and welfare conference in Sligo on Wednesday backed calls for it to negotiate a reduction in the working week from 37 hours to 35 hours for therapy grades such as physiotherapists, clerical staff and management and administrative personnel.

Michael Harhen from the South Tipperary branch said the issue of the additional working hours imposed on public service staff under the Haddington Road agreement in 2013 was not going away.

He said the measure was brought in six years ago at the height of the economic downturn but that the union’s members were “continuing to bear the brunt long after the financial crisis was over”.

He said members working the additional hours were effectively being hit with the equivalent of an additional six per cent pay cut.

“This cannot be fair and the Government has to accept that the free ride on the backs of our members is over”, he said.

Don Meskil from Cork said the increase in the working week from 35 hours to 37 hours, meant members were now working an additional three weeks per year for the same rate of pay.

“Between July 2013 (when the additional hours were put in place ) and July 2019 this will result in an additional 18 weeks having been worked with no extra remuneration for members.”

The conference passed a motion calling on the union, in the wake of the concessions secured by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation in its recent dispute, to pursue a claim for a similar deal.

Thousands of nurses secured a deal which will see them move to a higher-paid grade while others will receive allowances for the first time.

Fórsa national secretary Eamonn Donnelly said securing a 35-hour week could be difficult to achieve.

“But at the same time, you also have to respect the fact that when we were going backwards in the biggest recession there was a disproportionate burden being carried by some of our people and it is only to be expected that they will look to have that reversed.”

He said on pay , the union would work through the current public service agreement.

Separately at the conference on Wednesday Fórsa, which is the country’s largest public service union, said the next round of public service pay talks with the Government should include negotiations on establishing “a structured, fair and sustainable funding model” for what are known as section 39 agencies, which provide housing, disability and other services on behalf of the State.

Fórsa official Ian McDonnell said it was time to address “fundamental flaws” in the funding model for section 39 agencies, which were independent of the State but relied heavily or entirely on public funds to provide services and pay their staff.

Staff in section 39 bodies are not public servants but their organisations receive grants to provide servies on behalf of the State.