Strike action in community and voluntary health services  

Disability and other services affected as unions step up action for improved funding and pay in HSE-funded agencies

Fórsa has served notice of one-day strike actions in community and voluntary sector agencies in Galway later this month.

The action will take place in Western Care and Ability West on Thursday 22nd September, and at Enable Ireland Cork and Kerry on Friday 23rd September as part of the ICTU-led Valuing Care, Valuing Community campaign.

Other coordinated strike action by SIPTU and INMO members will take place in Cork, Mayo and Donegal on Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd September.

The campaign aims to achieve improved terms and conditions of employment for social care professionals and other staff employed in agencies funded by the HSE, where staff are employed on lower pay and lesser conditions than equivalent grades in the HSE and other agencies.

Galway’s Health and Local Government branch highlighted the problems facing the sector last Saturday (27th August) when members and supporters rallied behind the campaign to “Fund us fairly, pay us right.

Research published last year by Fórsa trade union shows that up to a third of staff in these agencies are leaving their jobs each year to seek better employment in similar work elsewhere.

Government is failing to grasp the link between its chronic underfunding of the services we’re talking about and the failure to meet the HSE’s recruitment targets in services such as disability.

Unions say urgent Government action is needed to address the funding of organisations in the sector, to make pay improvements for staff, stem the high rate of staff exits each year and fulfil recruitment targets for vital health services, including disability and homeless services.

Fórsa national secretary Ashley Connolly said: “Government is failing to grasp the link between its chronic underfunding of the services we’re talking about and the failure to meet the HSE’s recruitment targets in, for example, disability services.

“The outgoing head of the HSE has acknowledged they’re having problems meeting targets for disability services nationally, including unfilled roles in 18 organisations funded by the State. This has led to service delivery issues and growing waiting lists.

“The HSE leans heavily on the community and voluntary sector to deliver these services. These are the same organisations struggling to attract enough qualified and experienced staff in a very tight labour market. Why? Because they can get better paid work elsewhere.”

“The high level of staff turnover drives up HR and related recruitment costs. The failure to fund the services adequately has led directly to shortfalls in services, growing waiting lists and an intolerable burden placed on nursing and other care staff in the sector.

Industrial action ballots in each of the employments, conducted over the past few weeks, produced strong support for industrial action, up to and including strike action. Notice of the action was served to employers this week.

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