Voluntary bodies warned of funding cuts unless staff redeploy, Siptu claims

Union says members in section 39 agencies being instructed to move to HSE facilities

Some voluntary grant-aided organisations in the health and social care areas are being threatened with funding cuts unless their staff redeploy elsewhere across the health system, the trade union Siptu has said.

The union said on Wednesday that over recent days members in some organisations – known technically as section 39 bodies – had been instructed to transfer to HSE facilities.

Section 39 agencies receive grants from the HSE to deliver health and social services. Staff in such organisations are not considered by Government to be public service personnel.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said the employers of some of the union's members "have been threatened that they will suffer a loss of HSE funding if staff do not redeploy to other health facilities".


He said in some cases, staff in section 39 organisations had been asked to move to Covid-19community hubs that have been established across the country by the HSE.

The union said it was seeking assurances that staff working for these organisations would not be forced to redeploy to HSE facilities “to which they have no contractual obligations or the necessary qualifications to care for vulnerable patients”.

It is understood HSE management maintained that because some section 39 organisations could no longer provide services due to Government restrictions arising from coronavirus, either staff would be redeployed or the financial allocation would be cut. This could lead to the furloughing or lay-off of personnel.


“Union representatives have sought to engage with the HSE in order to reach an agreement which would allow section 39 workers to volunteer their services to other health service settings for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis. Such an agreement would be based on principles similar to those recently agreed for the voluntary redeployment of HSE staff to private nursing homes,” Mr Bell said.

The HSE was asked for comment on the Siptu statement.

Last week, a deal was reached between trade unions and the HSE that would see some health service staff volunteer to work in private nursing homes that have been affected by the pandemic.

Siptu public administration organiser Adrian Kane said that the HSE and the Government had treated section 39 employees as public service employees for redeployment purposes but "had refused for several years to honour its obligations to them when it comes to their pay and conditions of employment" by claiming that they are not public service staff.

“Yet, in the past week, employees of section 39 bodies have received correspondence informing them that they will be liable to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, if they do not make themselves available for redeployment to the HSE or other unspecified organisations. This is simply not acceptable,” he said.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent