Community sector and Section 39 health workers to march for better pay and respect

Trade union members working in the community sector and for Section 39 healthcare organisations from across the country are holding a major protest to highlight the need for better pay and respect of their roles in Dublin on Tuesday, 3rd May.

Among the hundreds of organisations the trade union members work for are Rehab Group, Western Care, Pieta House, EmployAbility, Local Employment Services, Ability West, Inclusion Ireland, Local Community Partnerships, Job Clubs, LEADER projects and the Irish Wheelchair Association.

SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “In many cases community sector and Section 39 organisation workers are poorly paid, have poor or no pension provision and lack security of employment. This is despite these workers providing important health and social services to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members of our society.

“The role of such community and healthcare organisations is vital at all times. They played a particularly key role in keeping our society together during the pandemic and are now being called upon to assist the wave of refugees that have resulted from the conflict in Ukraine.”

He added: “SIPTU, Fórsa and the INMO have come together under the banner of ICTU to seek a collective bargaining forum with Government to ensure our members’ terms and conditions of employment are on a par with the quality services which they provide.”

SIPTU Health Division Sector Organiser, Damian Ginley, said: “These workers provide some of our most vital community and care services including care for persons with a disability, the elderly, vulnerable families, meals on wheels and young people.

“The march and protest outside Leinster House in Dublin on Tuesday, 3rd May, is an opportunity for these workers and their supporters to tell the Government that action must be taken now to properly recognise the importance of the work they do. These workers need a pay rise and access to sick pay and pension schemes.”

Marchers will assemble outside the Customs House, Dublin 1, at 11.00 a.m. from where they will march to rally in Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

SIPTU calls on Minister to honour LRC proposal in Galway health workers dispute over unpaid wages

SIPTU members working as social care workers and social care leaders in County Galway have called on the Minister of Health, Leo Varadkar, to honour a Labour Relations Commission (LRC) proposal in a dispute concerning the payment of monies owed to them for evening work.

SIPTU Organiser, Mark Lohan, said: “Social care workers and social care leaders elsewhere in the country have always been paid increased rates of pay for work between 8.00 p.m. and midnight.

However, social care workers and social care leaders working for Ability West and the Brothers of Charity Services in Galway have not received monies that the Labour Court ruled were owed to them as compensation for these organisations failure to honour so-called ‘twilight payment’ rates.”

He added: “Following discussions at the LRC during July, an agreement was reached on a plan to resolve the issue of the monies owed for unpaid ‘twilight payments’ to our members in the Galway area.

The HSE and Department of Health have not signed off on the LRC proposal, preventing SIPTU from presenting it to our members for ratification.

“Due to the position taken by the HSE and Department of Health our members were regrettably left with no option but to commence industrial action.

“The workers are now calling on the Minister of Health, Leo Varadkar, to personally intervene so they are not forced to escalate their industrial action.

These workers want this dispute resolved as quickly as possible so they can maintain their full focus on their main priority which is providing the best standard of care possible for their clients.”

SIPTU calls for HSE intervention in staffing crisis in community units in Meath

SIPTU has called for senior Health Service Executive (HSE) officials to urgently intervene to resolve a staffing crisis at two community care units in County Meath which appears to have resulted in beds being left idle.
SIPTU Organiser, John McCamley, said: “This crisis began after the HSE refused to fill permanent nursing vacancies in St Joseph’s Hospital in Trim and Beaufort House in Navan a number of weeks ago. This crisis will compound the ongoing problems in local hospital emergency departments within the region.
“Presently, both units are understaffed to the equivalent of more than eight full-time staff nursing positions and one clinical nurse manager. There are a number of healthcare assistant posts which are also vacant. The situation has been made worse by the inability of local management to source adequate temporary agency cover.”
He added: “It is extraordinary and unacceptable that this situation has been allowed continue over the last number of weeks. It would seem that no senior officials in the HSE are willing to deal with it.
“Until the HSE properly resources and staffs community services, such as these units, hospital overcrowding will remain an acute problem. SIPTU has asked the HSE Head of Operations and Service Improvement for Older People, Michael Fitzgerald, to directly intervene in this situation. HSE management must reverse its decision not to fill these vacant posts and put emergency measures in place until new staff are recruited.”

SIPTU calls for increased funding for Home Care service to help ease hospitals crisis

SIPTU has called on the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to immediately increase funding to HSE Home Care services in order to tackle the issue of delayed discharge and overcrowding of patients across the public hospital network.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “There are currently 800 patients waiting to be discharged from hospitals across the State. While many of these will need nursing home care, many more can and should be enabled to return to their own homes where they can be supported through HSE Home Care services. We have thousands of SIPTU members working as Home Helps who are ready, willing and able to provide the necessary supports to facilitate such a process.

“However, over 2 million hours have been cut from Home Care services since 2008, with cutbacks only coming to a halt after a concerted campaign by our union. One legacy of these cuts is that patients who could be supported at home are now more likely to remain in hospital care. At the same time underemployment is now a common feature throughout the Home Care workforce”.

A SIPTU survey has revealed that nearly 7 out of 10 Home Care workers currently have less than 20 hours work per week. The same survey also indicates that 4 out of 5 such workers are seeking additional hours of work. This means in many cases a home care service could be provided for hospital patients enabling many of them to return to live in their own homes under a tailored care plan.

Paul Bell added: “The minister needs to act now to restore funding and hours to this critical service as a key measure to address the ongoing hospital crisis. A comprehensive Government response which addresses the issues of understaffing in our hospitals, and the restoration of hospital beds remains central to any long-term solution to the current crisis. However, provision of adequate funding for HSE Home Care services is one important measure that could quickly assist in alleviating the current situation.”