Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns has spoken out in support of Section 39 workers in community and voluntary sector organisations who are to commence indefinite strike action from Tuesday, October 17.
Deputy Cairns, who is the party’s spokesperson on disability, said:
“The organisations at the centre of the dispute are funded by the Health Service Executive and other State agencies. Section 39 workers play a vital role across a range of areas, including support for older people, the provision of disability and addiction services, as well as specialised health interventions.
“It is unacceptable that these workers are paid up to 15 per cent less than their counterparts in the HSE or other State agencies and do not have pension entitlements.
“This two-tier pay system has led to an escalating staffing crisis for organisations across the country. Service delivery is being jeopardised as a result of challenges around staff recruitment and retention, putting immense pressure on service providers.
“Recruitment difficulties in the sector are also having an impact on long waiting lists for health and social care services, especially in the area of children’s disability services.
“Shamefully, the Government walked out of negotiations with the sector earlier this summer, leaving workers with no option but to engage in strike action. This behaviour shows just how little the Government values the workers who provide such essential services.
“The Social Democrats will once again be demanding pay parity for Section 39 workers in the upcoming Budget. I am now calling on the Government to immediately re-engage with trade unions representing those working in the community and voluntary sector.”
September 25, 2023