Holly Cairns TD

The Government’s failure to avert tomorrow’s strike action by Section 39 workers will heap further pressure on threadbare services for the elderly and people with disabilities, according to Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns.

Deputy Cairns, who is the party’s spokesperson on disability, said:

“There was an expectation that last week’s Budget would allocate funding to restore pay parity for community and voluntary workers, who are paid significantly less than their counterparts in the HSE. This would have been the perfect opportunity to halt the indefinite industrial action being commenced by around 5,000 Section 39 workers on Tuesday.

“It is important to remember that the pay of Section 39 workers was historically aligned with that of HSE staff until cuts were imposed across the board during the recession in 2010. However, while rates for HSE staff have since been restored, pay parity for workers in the community and voluntary sectors never materialised.

“In the Social Democrats’ alternative budget, we proposed funding of €150 million as a first step towards pay parity for Section 39 organisations, which are struggling to recruit and retain staff due to low wages.

“Unless there is an 11th hour solution found, there will be hundreds of people tomorrow who won’t be able to get out of bed, get a drink of water or get breakfast for themselves. I know many of these workers are embarking on industrial action with heavy hearts and it is very much a last resort.

“The Government were given 21 days’ notice of this strike action and it is incredible that no progress has been made during this time. The Minister for Health must immediately intervene to avert tomorrow’s action and prevent further chaos in already overstretched disability services around the country.”

October 16, 2023

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