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Discrimination against Section 39 workers must end

This week, all political parties voted unanimously in favour of a Fianna Fáil Private Members Bill presented to Dáil Éireann which called for pay restoration for Section 39 workers.

SIPTU has now been informed that Minister for Health Simon Harris has instructed the HSE to conduct an urgent review and analysis of Section 39 Organisations claiming monies for the purpose of implementing pay restoration and with a focus on Labour Court Recommendations.

This is a positive step. But nothing more than that.

Workers in Section 39 organisations play a vital role in our health and care services providing assistance to patients and vulnerable members of our communities. Although fully funded by the HSE these organisations maintain their own management.

During the economic crisis, when cuts were administered to their colleagues directly employed by the HSE, Section 39 workers similarly saw their earnings reduced. This was at the direction of the Government. However, while workers across the public services are now seeing the sacrifices they made acknowledged with the beginning of a process of pay restoration, their colleagues in Section 39 organisations are experiencing no similar restitution.

This is a clearly unfair and unacceptable situation. It has been acknowledged as such in Labour Court recommendations which have upheld the claim by SIPTU members in Section 39 organisations to have their pay link with the public service recognised.

As a union which is committed to equality between workers who carry out the same tasks, all SIPTU members should support those in Section 39 organisations in their stand against discrimination and for pay justice.

As committed health and care workers, it is only as a very last resort that our members in Section 39 organisations will withdraw their services to those they assist. Unfortunately, government intransigence is forcing them into this position and if they do have to take to the picket lines on 14th February, they will do in the knowledge that they have the full support of their union colleagues across the country.

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