Thousands of health and social workers ‘likely’ to go on strike

November strike for Section 39 workers on the way unless pay talks progress

Staff in health services are ‘becoming extremely frustrated’. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Staff in health services are ‘becoming extremely frustrated’. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

 

Thousands of staff working in State-funded bodies delivering social and health services are likely to go on strike in early November unless progress is made in new talks on pay restoration, their union has said.

Talks between the trade union Siptu and health service management over pay in so-called Section 39 organisations resumed on Monday morning.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said on Monday that his members in Section 39 bodies wanted to see a start to pay restoration this year as well as a timetable for the process to be completed.

He said staff in Section 39 organisations were becoming extremely frustrated at the manner in which the HSE and the Department of Health was participating in the current process.

“We will be advising the employers that unless significant progress is made it is likely that our members will commit to strike action.”

A strike in a number of Section 39 bodies over pay restoration was deferred in February to allow the HSE to carry out an audit regarding remuneration in the various organisations.

Pay cuts

Staff in many Section 39 organisations experienced pay cuts similar to those imposed on public service personnel working in State agencies offering similar-type services after the economic crash, the union said. However, Siptu maintained that unlike public servants working in the health and social care sectors, those in Section 39 organisations had not been offered pay restoration proposals.

The Department of Health and the HSE have argued that staff working in Section 39 organisations are not public servants and are not covered by public service pay deals.

The HSE audit of cumulative pay for staff in a group of Section 39 bodies found that pay cuts averaging 4.66 per cent were put in place for employees in 2010.

Mr Bell said the HSE estimated that full pay restoration across all Section 39 organizations would cost €68 million in total.

However he said Siptu had proposed a pay restoration on a phased basis and had called on Government to provide €12 million in 2018 to allow the process to get underway this year.