SIPTU members have stepped up the drive to secure pay justice across Section 39 organisations and look set to take industrial action in early 2018.
SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Since the beginning of our campaign we have received cross-party support from members of the Oireachtas including Minister of State with Responsibilities for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath, Sinn Fein Health spokesperson, Louise O’Reilly, and Labour Health spokesman, Alan Kelly.
However, the Department of Finance and the Department of Health are continuing to pass the buck between themselves, it would seem in a hope that the legitimate concerns of our members will just go away. That is not going to happen. Our members’ resolve is strong and the feeling on the ground is that a national strike next month is now unavoidable.
He added: “Our members are resolute that they cannot continue to provide first-class healthcare services at third class wages. SIPTU representatives will not accept the Government and HSE attempts to wash their hands of this injustice by saying they are not directly involved in the employment of the Section 39 workers.”
Patrice Madden, a member of the union from Cork, said: “Section 39 workers had their pay cut by up to 8% in the wake of the financial crisis. They have been left high and dry while other healthcare workers directly employed by the Government in HSE facilities have since had pay restoration.
“When the pain was being dished out by successive governments it was dished out equally but when the time comes for some pain relief, in the form of pay restoration, up to 10,000 workers like me are left wanting. It’s not right, it’s not fair and it’s not just.”
SIPTU member, Liz Cloherty, from Galway, said: “The current situation is simply untenable. It is a disrespectful way to treat people. All we are asking for is fair treatment. Staff undertake precisely the same work as directly-employed HSE staff and must have the same qualifications. The only difference is in their pay packet.
“This pay injustice is now so severe that hundreds of workers are quitting the sector, entirely leaving people who rely on the service potentially exposed and vulnerable.”
Section 39 organisations are Government grant-aided organisations which provide disability, mental health and community services.
To learn more about the campaign download the SIPTU Health Division App.