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01/11/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Home help services in Dublin and Wicklow facing potential strike action

Home help services in parts of Dublin and Wicklow are facing potential strike action in the run up to Christmas which could result in disruption for thousands of people.

SIPTU Health representatives said ahead of a meeting in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions that members are in dispute with eight organisations in Dublin and Wicklow, which provide home-help services under agreements with the Health Service Executive, over the restoration of payments which had been cut following the economic crash.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser Paul Bell said the union would now ballot members in these organisations – known technically as Section 39 bodies – for strike action. He said this process would be completed by the end of November and if the ballot was passed, this could lead to strike action in the run up to Christmas.

Mr Bell said there were between 1,500 and 1,800 members of SIPTU working for these organisations, providing home-help services for thousands of people across Dublin and Wicklow.

Many employees in Section 39 bodies had their incomes reduced to varying degrees when public service pay was cut during the economic crisis between 2010 and 2013. Unions have contended that such cuts were introduced by Section 39 organisations at the direction of the HSE.

A pilot review of 50 of the 300 Section 39 organisations found the average pay cut had been 4.66 per cent across the sector. It also found there were variations on the level of pay restorations that had taken place.

Under a deal reached between the union and the Government last May, a process was put in place to facilitate the restoration of pay for staff in Section 39 organisations in the group of 50 bodies that were covered by the pilot project.

As part of this agreement, staff were to receive a payment of up to €1,000 with effect from the end of April.

From October 1st, 2020, affected Section 39 staff were to receive half of the outstanding restoration payment, with the remaining balance to be paid one year later. This would place the workers back on the salaries they were on before the original cuts.

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