SIPTU demands automatic extensions of service for retirement age health workers

SIPTU Health representatives have demanded that the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, sanction automatic extensions of service to all low paid health workers who require them, in order to prevent those over 65 being forced into financial hardship or onto exploitive contracts.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “Many low paid workers are being forced to retire at 65 without the cushion of the state transitional pension. Over the last few months, SIPTU representatives have presented solutions to the Health Service Executive (HSE) that could prevent our members, who are compelled to retire at 65, from experiencing financial hardship as they await becoming eligible for their state pension.

“Our members, who are mainly low paid, have also been exposed to hardship by being denied their occupational pension from the day they retire from work. This specific issue was investigated by the Ombudsman for Pensions following a request from SIPTU members. The Ombudsman found that some state funded employers have a serious case to answer.”

Bell added: “What we have learned from our members making applications for one year extensions of service is the behaviour of some Section 38 Health Service employers is extremely exploitive and unacceptable. In some cases, low paid workers who are desperate to remain on payroll are being forced to sign a new contract which involves losing salary and conditions.

“In many cases low paid health service workers are being forced to accept lower basic pay and unsocial hours. This clear exploitation of workers must cease and the Government has a duty to ensure that it does.”

SIPTU members demand clarification of pay policy for workers in Section 38 organisations

SIPTU representatives have today (Monday, July 11th) written to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Pascal Donohue, demanding immediate clarification of public sector pay policy for members working in Section 38 organisations.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell said: “Our members were furious to learn through the media that senior managers in some Section 38 organisations are exempt from FEMPI while several thousand low paid workers in the organisations are pinned to their collar by this draconian piece of legislation.

“The majority of our members working in Section 38 organisations receive wages of between €25,000 and €35,000 for working unsocial hours in very tough working environments, made even tougher through the tightening of resources and the health staff recruitment pause. The revelation that senior managers get special treatment is another kick in the teeth for those workers who carried the health services through the emergency while those at the top were insulated from making a proportionate contribution to our nation’s economic recovery.

“St John of God is one of the organisations SIPTU is pursuing for breaching public service pay agreements with regard to the payment of overtime. Continuing staff shortages have led to an over reliance by management on our members’ to work additional hours. Due to the vulnerability of clients in their care they feel compelled to do these hours.

The refusal by management to hire an appropriate number of staff to cover these hours effectively means our members are forced to work unsocial hours and cover staff shortages without overtime rates being applied. All the while, senior managers in Section 38 organisations are receiving obscene top –up payments that are multiples of our members’ wages. It’s totally unacceptable.”