The three unions representing staff working in community and voluntary sector agencies funded by the HSE – SIPTU, Fórsa and the INMO – have confirmed that fresh pay claims have been served on a number of employers in the sector.
The fresh pay claims have been served on employers in the context of an ongoing dispute about pay terms in HSE-funded agencies providing health and care services.
While funded by the State, employees in a range of health professional, clinical, clerical and administrative grades are on lesser terms and conditions than their HSE counterparts.
The Minister for Health acknowledged in the Dáil last October that the Government is the ‘main and often sole funder’ of these organisations, and that its funding affects the ability of agencies to improve pay and conditions.
Earlier this week the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, and the Department of Health, confirmed they would attend the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) along with the HSE, in anticipated conciliation talks on the issue.
The departments confirmed their intention to attend at a meeting of the National Joint Council on Tuesday the 28th of March, the main industrial relations forum for the health service, comprised of representatives from management and trade unions.
Until 2008, workers in these agencies received pay increases under national wage agreements. At the onset of the financial crisis they were subject to FEMPI pay cuts in line with the same cuts applied to public sector pay.
Limited pay restoration measures were eventually won by unions in 2019 but pay in these agencies remains significantly behind, and no formal mechanism for collective pay bargaining exists for workers in the sector.
The unions have said they remain available to engage with the departments and the HSE under the auspices of the WRC, and are hopeful of an imminent conciliation meeting.