The three unions representing workers employed community and voluntary sector agencies, SIPTU, Fórsa and the INMO, have confirmed that members of all three unions have given strong backing to a set of proposals, brokered last month during talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), for an interim agreement on pay for workers in Section 39, 56 and 10 organisations.
The ICTU-led coalition of unions will now request that the WRC reconvene the parties. The WRC proposals led to the suspension of planned indefinite strike action, which had been due to commence in 17 employments across the country in October.
The proposals include pay increases backdated to April 2023, along with commitments to address the funding issues in the sector, providing for the parties to reconvene under the auspices of the WRC no later than 1st December next. The purpose of this engagement will be to agree further adjustments in funding for organisations and their staff that will have regard to the terms of the Building Momentum public service pay agreement and the terms of any successor public pay agreement.
The proposals backed by the unions provide for the following pay adjustments:
• An Increase of 3% from 1st April 2023 (backdated)
• An Increase of 2% from 1st November 2023
• An Increase of 3% from 1st March 2024
The dispute followed years of pay disparity between workers in Section 39 (health and disability services) Section 56 (services to children), Section 10 (homeless services), in community services and their counterparts employed directly by the state.
Because of that pay gap, union research has shown that workers are leaving their jobs – in large numbers – to take better-paid employment elsewhere. The turnover of staff in the sector is around 30% per year. The staffing crisis is adding to recruitment costs and longer waiting lists.