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Unions call on Government to immediately intervene on Section 39 pay dispute

SIPTU, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and Fórsa representatives, have today (Wednesday 19th July) expressed their deep and intense frustration with the Government over its failure to resolve a long standing pay dispute involving thousands of Section 39, Section 10 and Section 56 workers.

The call comes following a last minute cancellation of a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) by the government employers hearing for the fourth time.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “Our members are beyond frustrated at this point. They want back what was taken from them: the 10% pay gap to be closed and the pay link with the public service workers restored in full. The strategy of dodge, delay, and deny won’t wash with our members and we are demanding that this matter be resolved once and for all. Our industrial and strike action has only been suspended, and if the Government does not intervene to settle this dispute, we will not be found wanting. We have the intolerable situation where members are being paid 2008 rates for work they do in 2023. This is completely unacceptable.”

SIPTU Public Administration and Community Divisional Organiser, Karan O’Loughlin, said “The wage cuts unilaterally imposed after the economic crash over a decade ago have been reversed all over the economy, but these workers are being left behind. This puts these essential services at risk and our members extremely frustrated. The reality is that we have a recruitment and retention crisis across the entire community health and voluntary sectors, so for government ministers to stand idly by while their department officials attempt to run down the clock and leave these workers high and dry time after time is completely intolerable. We won’t be standing for it and will be reactivating our strike notice if this disrespectful behaviour continues.”

Fórsa Health National Secretary, Ashley Connolly, said: “This latest delay is a very frustrating development, and adds a further strain on our members in this sector, who have had their patience exhausted by endless delays. The delay also puts additional pressure on employers in the sector, who are managing a deepening crisis on recruitment and retention, while service users continue to endure lengthening waiting lists due to staff shortages. We need decisive Government action to bring an end to the delays and uncertainty. Unions stand ready to negotiate in good faith. Equally we stand ready to engage with engage in industrial action. We will return to the WRC on 31st July, and our members will expect progress.”

INMO Director of Industrial Relations, Albert Murphy, said: “We are disappointed with yet another deferment from the employer’s side. We will attend the WRC on the 31st July with a firm expectation there will be a credible proposal from management to the unions involved in this long-running dispute. The workers who are at the centre of this dispute are not immune from the cost-of-living crisis. Their salaries have not meaningfully increased in fifteen years. The Government must take its role as a substantial financial backer to Section 39 organisations seriously and ensure that workers in these organisations have their salaries linked to the public service.”

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