December 7, 2022

Community and voluntary sector workers go on strike

Hundreds of workers employed in the community and voluntary sector in counties Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo and Donegal will take part in three days of strikes from today, seeking better pay and conditions .

The workers are members of INMO, SIPTU and Fórsa.

The action is carried out jointly by the trade unions, within the framework of the Valuing Care, Valuing Community campaign of the Trades Union Congress.

Today’s strikes will focus on Co Cork.

Pickets will be placed at St Joseph’s Foundation in Charleville, as well as the Irish Wheelchair Association and EmployAbility in Cork City.

Tomorrow’s strikes will take place at Ability West offices in Tuam and Galway City, at Western Care in Belmullet, Ballina and Castlebar in County Mayo, and at a number of community employment programs across the County Donegal.

The action is carried out jointly by the trade unions, within the framework of the
Valuing Care, Valuing Community Campaign of the Trades Union Congress

Striking workers will also hold a protest march and rally from midday tomorrow in Letterkenny.

The march will start outside the SIPTU office on Port Road, Gortlee, and end with a rally outside the Intreo Center on the High Road in Letterkenny.

Pickets will be placed at Enable Ireland centers at Curaheen in Cork and Tralee, Co Kerry on Friday.

The unions involved claim that health and social care workers of all grades employed in agencies funded by the Health Service Executive are paid significantly less than equivalent workers employed directly by the HSE and other state bodies .

Section 39 organizations are contracted to provide services on behalf of the HSE for grant funding under Section 39 of the Health Act 2004.

The Department of Health says that because these organizations are private, setting pay rates for their staff is not a government responsibility.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has acknowledged the ‘great’, ‘important’ and ‘critical work’ that voluntary and community workers do, noting that they continue to ensure the continuity of essential services, even during industrial action In progress.

There are real issues at stake, but “the government is not the direct employer”, he said.

Mr Ryan was responding to Solidarity-PBP TD Mick Barry, who called on the government to use the budget to secure improved wages for Section 39 workers.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said voluntary and community workers were doing “tremendous” and “important” work. (Picture: RollingNews.ie)

However, SIPTU accused the government of adopting a “pass the parcel” approach, with no department willing to address the concerns of community workers.

“We have written to the Taoiseach requesting a meeting on this issue,” said Adrian Kane, public administration and community organizer for SIPTU.

“His office then referred us to the Tánaiste, who in turn referred us to other ministers. finance them.”

A study published last year by the Fórsa union indicated high turnover rates among staff in the community and voluntary sectors, up to 33% per year, according to the union.

Fórsa National Secretary Ashley Connolly said: “The Government is failing to grasp the link between its chronic underfunding of the services we are talking about and the failure to meet HSE recruitment targets in, for example, services for people with disabilities. This has led to service delivery issues and growing waiting lists.”

INMO’s Deputy Director of Industrial Relations, Colm Porter, added: “High staff turnover is driving up human resource and recruitment costs.”