SIPTU and UNICARE step up pay justice campaign for Section 39 care workers
With the help of UNICARE, members of the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) in Ireland have stepped up their campaign to win pay justice for employees at Section 39 organisations. Section 39 of the Irish Health Act allows the government to pay private agencies for non-acute, community care.
Care workers of SIPTU along with Director UNICARE Adrian Durtschi met with Labour Party TD Alan Kelly and Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly this week to seek support for increasing a block healthcare support grant so Section 39 care providers could receive a pay rise.
An increase in the grant, provided for specific care providers, should be used to reverse wage cuts imposed on low-paid healthcare contractors in 2010.
Section 39 workers had their pay cut by up to 8% in the wake of the Irish financial crisis have been left high and dry while other health care workers directly employed by Government and HSE facilities have since had pay restoration. Workers say that this imbalance affects the stability of their workforces and the quality of care provided.
“Staff undertake precisely the same work as directly employed HSE staff and must have the same qualifications. The only difference is in the 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,” Explains SIPTU Healthcare Divisional Organiser Paul Bell the situation.
SIPTU and UNICARE 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. Section 39 workers are in hospices, community hospitals and Rehab facilities. In the intellectual disabilities support sector alone, one in ten workers is employed on a Section 39 contract.
“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 are left wanting. The Irish government and parliament need to act now!” said Adrian Durtschi, Director UNICARE.