Section 39 workers to get €1,000 in April in pay restoration deal

Healthcare assistants largest group to benefit from new pay deal

The WRC, Labour Court Workplace Relations Commission at Landsdowne House Photograph: Alan Betson

The WRC, Labour Court Workplace Relations Commission at Landsdowne House Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Thousands of support staff in the health service seem set to receive significant pay rises after a review found the level of responsibility involved has increased.

The trade union Siptu will tell members at a conference on Thursday that on foot of an independent job evaluation assessment, staff such as healthcare assistants, laboratory personnel and employees in central supply units are set for a pay boost.

About 5,000 healthcare assistants comprise the largest group to benefit from the review which will see them transferred to a higher pay band.

The union will announce that some healthcare assistants could see their pay increase from about €32,000 to €36,000.

The job evaluation review for healthcare support staff was agreed by Government as part of the Lansdowne Road public service agreement.

The union is expected to seek formal engagement with the Health Service Executive in implementation of the review.

The review comes as nursing unions have urged members to reject Government pay proposals which would increase allowances for up to 20,000 members.

The Public Service Pay Commission rejected across-the-board pay rises for nurses.

The deal for support staff is just the latest agreed within the health service, which is already heavily over-spending this year. On Wednesday, it emerged several thousand staff in State -funded voluntary bodies providing health and social services are to receive increases of up to €1,000 next April as part of a pay restoration deal.

Employees of what are known as Section 39 organisations will also receive 50 per cent of outstanding restoration due to them in October 2020 and the remainder in 2021.

The deal reached between unions and health service management on Tuesday night will cost €7.7 million next year. It involves employees in 50 Section 39 bodies.

The total cost of pay restoration for all staff in Section 39 organisations will be in the region of €68 million.

Unions had argued that while Section 39 staff had experienced pay cuts similar to public service personnel – who in some cases do similar jobs – they had not received any pay restoration.

Section 39 bodies are HSE funded but the government had previously contended that the workers in Section 39 organisations were not public service employees.

Talks were re-convened in September to avoid a threatened strike in the sector.

New deal

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the new deal was structured in such a way that those who were the lowest paid would see their pay restored in the shortest period of time.

Almost 90 per cent of staff who saw their pay cut will see on average three quarters of that reduction restored in 2019, he claimed.

Minister of State at the Department of Health Finian McGrath said: “This was particularly important to me given that a majority of staff are employed in organisations which provide essential care and support for people with disabilities across the country. They deserve a fair deal and I believe that is what we have got.”

He said a validation and audit process would need to be carried out by the HSE to ensure the funding sought by organisations was warranted and that pay reductions were applied.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said the proposals “had the potential to provide members not only with money in their pocket but a clear plan for Section 39 organisation workers to have their pay restored in a manner which corresponds to their counterparts directly employed by the HSE”.

The union is to recommend acceptance of the proposals in a forthcoming ballot.

The trade union Fórsa,which also represents staff in Section 39 organisations, said the proposals marked a successful conclusion to a very challenging process to achieve pay restoration.