Valentine’s Day trade union rally has a message for the new government: “Unfinished business: Don’t ignore community services”
SIPTU and Forsa will hold a lunchtime rally on Friday, 14th February (St Valentine’s Day) to deliver a message to the incoming government about unfinished business on pay and pension justice for workers in the community and voluntary sector.
Workers in Section 39 agencies, under which community and voluntary sector organisations are funded to deliver care and other services by the HSE, plan to take industrial action on Friday 21st February, marking the latest phase of the unions’ campaign for pay justice in independent organisations that rely on State funding to deliver vital health and care services.
Community Employment (CE) supervisors will be taking part in a 24-hour work stoppage next Friday (14th February) in a continuing dispute over the Government’s failure to implement a 2008 Labour Court recommendation to give CE supervisors access to an occupational pension scheme.
CE supervisors plan to escalate the action in February and March.
Representatives of both groups will rally at 12noon at the Customs House in Dublin and proceed to the offices of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) at Merrion Street.
Unions will rally behind a message for the new government: “Unfinished business: Don’t ignore community services.”
SIPTU members in the catering and household departments of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services on James Street, Dublin 8, will commence an strike, in a dispute concerning the outsourcing of services, at 7.00 a.m. on Friday, 14th February.
SIPTU Organiser, Aideen Carberry, said: “The decision to conduct strike action by our members is in response to their employer’s decision to outsource the household and catering services of the organisation to other companies without consultation or agreement. Our members, in the household and catering departments, voted unanimously earlier this week for strike action.
“Their employer was formally notified today (Friday, 7th February) of the decision to commence this action on 14th February. Our members will operate pickets at the entrances to the facility from 7.00 a.m. on 14th February and carry out no further duties until management agrees to engage with their trade union representatives in order to achieve an agreed solution to this dispute.
“Our members have attempted to engage the employer in a conversation about alternatives to outsourcing which the employer has not considered. They regret that their strike action has become necessary. However, they are resolute in having the employer address their concerns.”
She added: “Our members are of the view that any outsourcing will have a detrimental impact on services in the hospital. It is extraordinary that a long established mental health provider would take such action that is causing such anguish among its staff.”
SIPTU members in catering and household departments of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services on James Street, Dublin 8, will hold a public protest tomorrow (Friday, 7thFebruary) to highlight their vote for industrial action in a dispute concerning the outsourcing of services.
The lunchtime protest will take place between 12.00 p.m. and 2.00 p.m. outside the main entrance of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services on James Street.
SIPTU Organiser, Aideen Carberry, said: “SIPTU members in catering and household departments of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services voted unanimously for industrial action up to, and including strike action, in a ballot counted on Tuesday (4th February).
“The vote for industrial action is a result of the employer’s unilateral decision to outsource the two services to private companies. The dispute involves over one hundred employees. Our members feel betrayed by their employer. They have given loyal service to the company and the service users in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services over many years.”
She added: “The management of St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services has made no attempt to engage with their employees or their union representatives concerning alternatives to the outsourcing of the services. Our members are of the view that this outsourcing will have a detrimental impact services in the hospital. It is extraordinary that a well-renowned mental health provider would take such action that is causing such anguish amongst its staff.”
This Valentine’s Day, shop stewards and activists working in Section 39 organisations across Dublin and in surrounding counties are coming together to demand PAY JUSTICE for workers providing public health and care services in our communities.
SIPTU’s Section 39 campaign is a comprehensive approach to a complex challenge. It is not just about pay restoration. It is about respect, recognition and also about future pay movement.
- Full pay restoration for all Section 39 workers.
- Recognition of the existence of our members’ pay relationship with the public sector.
- A protocol for Section 39 organisations to claim funding from government for pay restoration.
- Engagement with SIPTU on future pay movement in the public service as it relates to Section 39 organisations.
WE ARE ASKING YOU TO JOIN US. TO STAND TOGETHER, TO MARCH AND TO MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR BY THE GOVERNMENT PAYMASTERS. IT’S TIME SECTION 39 WORKERS FELT SOME LOVE.
The views of SIPTU members expressed through surveys and at delegate conferences will be the crucial factor in deciding campaigning priorities for the union, the National Executive Council has decided.
In a recent survey pay, stress at work and having enough to live on in retirement emerged as the top three priorities for union members in the workplace.
Two of these issues are now the focus of SIPTU campaigns – for pay increases across the private sector and to STOP67, which is aimed at halting increases in the pension age.
The views of the membership expressed at Divisional and Biennial Delegate conferences are also a key indicator of members’ concerns. The proposal to raise the pension age to 67 in 2020 was brought up in numerous motions at recent conferences and led to the launch of the STOP67 campaign.
The extensive survey of more than 3,000 SIPTU members was conducted between September and October 2019.
This survey found that issues surrounding the housing crisis, the increasing cost of living and healthcare were the top three priorities for respondents, who were drawn from SIPTU members across the country.
More than 80% of respondents placed problems with buying a home, high rents and homelessness, all aspects of the housing crisis, among their top three priorities.
The next two priorities were the rising cost of living and healthcare.
Approximately two thirds of respondents highlighted living costs and over 50% focused on the problems in the healthcare system. Other issues of importance to members included access to public transport, childcare and having a real say in society.
SIPTU Deputy General secretary, Ethel Buckley, said: “The National Executive Council decision to prioritise as campaigns action on issues which emerge through consultation processes and the democratic structures of the union ensures that the members maintain their rightful place as the real leaders of our organisation.”
SIPTU members working in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, James’s Street, Dublin 8, will tomorrow (Wednesday, 29th January) begin the process of balloting for strike action in a dispute resulting from a management decision to outsource household and catering services to third party providers without agreement.
SIPTU Organiser, Aideen Carberry said: “Our members believe that this unilateral action is an attempt by management to not only provide these essential services on the cheap, but to remove loyal workers from a staff defined benefit pension scheme by the backdoor. Our longest serving member has been working for the organisation for almost 45 years. Management and service users alike have previously complimented the work our members perform for the organisation in household and catering so we can only deduce that this is a miserly attempt to save money for the organisation and we believe the service will suffer because of it.”
“In 2017, the employer commenced a review of both catering and household services. At the time, SIPTU representatives objected on the grounds that the review in catering was being carried out by a company already providing catering services to the hospital. SIPTU also called for a full engagement with staff, prior to any recommendation on outsourcing being taken to the Board of Governors. SIPTU repeatedly sought updates on the review. These calls fell on deaf ears. In the summer of 2019, union representatives were advised that the decision to outsource these services had been made and contracts signed with the providers. This lack of respect towards the staff and their representatives is totally unacceptable.”
She added: “Our members are absolutely furious about how St Patrick’s Mental Health Services management has dealt with this situation. The staff and their union representatives have openly called for talks to commence for an agreement to keep the staff in direct employment. These calls have so far been ignored by management and our members see no alternative but to ballot for strike action. We are calling on St Patrick’s Mental Health Services management to reverse its decision and to engage with SIPTU representatives in a meaningful dialogue that will keep the services in-house and not impact on patient care and safety.”
SIPTU was joined by SIPTU Health Division activists including Stop67 campaigner Sue Redmond and leading non-governmental organisations for the launch of the Stop67 campaign in Dublin last Thursday which aims to halt the increase of the state pension age for workers to 67 from 2021.
Speaking at the formal campaign launch in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in Kildare Street, Dublin,SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley, said: “STOP67 is the SIPTU campaign to stop the increase of the state pension age to 67 on 1st January, 2021.
“SIPTU representatives are not surprised this is a major general election issue. We have been hearing from our members since the abolition of the transitional pension scheme in 2014 about the difficulties that the retirement gap has been causing for workers. This includes the absolute indignity of people coming up to 65 years of agewho are expecting to get their pension and having to sign on the dole.”
SIPTU General Secretary, Joe Cunningham, called on Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to make clear their position on the pensions issue.
He added: “All the other political parties are supportingthe ‘STOP67’ campaign. The big two parties must make their position clear.”
National Women’s Council of Ireland Director, Orla O’Connor, said: “This is a core issue for women. Women rely on the state pension for the vast majority of their income in older age. So, anything that impacts on state pensions disproportionally impacts on women.”
Age Action Chief Executive, Paddy Connolly, said: “This campaign is not only about stopping the rise of the pension age to 67 but also the creation of a stakeholder forum which will consider issues such as finances, age discrimination and others that effect people in their retirement.”
Active Retirement Ireland chief executive, Maureen Kavanagh, said: “Ireland has the youngest population but the highest prospective retirement age in the EU. We are not under the demographic pressure of other countries. Retirement is a great part of life but it has to be voluntary, flexible and appropriate. We can’t force people out of a job that they love, or to stay in their job.”
On 1st January public servants received their next union-negotiated pay and pension levy boosts.
The Public Service Stability Agreement, which was negotiated by SIPTU and other unions in 2017, will also deliver another 2% salary adjustment for all this September. Non-pay provisions in the PSSA include strong protections against outsourcing. The deal expires in December 2020.
That’s why we planning ahead and consulting our members on what are the issues that matter to them in the workplace ahead of any potential successor.
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SIPTU representatives have rejected a claim by finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, that the State cannot afford to stop the increase in the pension age to 67 years in 2021. Responding to finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, who questioned how the €200 million cost of such a policy could be funded, SIPTU Researcher, Michael Taft, said that it could be financed from the existing Social Insurance Fund.
Michael Taft said: “The Minister has said that it will cost €217 million per year to stop the pension age increase and has questioned how this would be paid for. The €217 million cost of stopping the increase can be paid out of the surplus in the Social Insurance Fund. The Fund is currently running a surplus of €1.4 billion a year. The reality is that, in the short term, there would be no need to increase taxation, cut spending or borrow to finance the cancellation of the pension age increase. For the longer term, the ‘STOP67’ SIPTU campaign has called for a Stakeholder Forum to discuss new policies regarding issues such as the pension age, age discrimination, living standards and life quality in retirement.”
“The Government has already introduced a number of new PRSI based payments, such as optical, dental, illness benefits and unemployment benefit for self-employed, which are paid out of the Social Insurance Fund surplus. It is quite credible to suggest that the Fund can be used to cover the short-term cost of halting the planned increase in the pension age to 67 next year.”
A SIPTU campaign to stop the plans to increase the state pension age to 67 years of age in 2021 and 68 in 2028 has become a major issue in this election, prior to its formal launch on Thursday, 23rd January in Dublin.
SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley said: “SIPTU members have helped to make the government plan to raise the pension age to 67 one of the major issues of the election campaign. In recent weeks, SIPTU representatives have been working hard, lobbying politicians and bringing together interested organisations to campaign on this issue which was one of the key concerns raised by our membership at the union’s Biennial delegate conference last year.”
The ‘STOP67’ SIPTU campaign to halt the increase in the state pension age will be formally launched at an event in the Cheyne Room, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, 6 Kildare Street, Dublin 2 at 11.00 a.m. on Thursday, 23rd January. The launch will also be addressed by supportive campaign groups including Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland.