The three unions representing staff working in community and voluntary sector agencies funded by the HSE – Fórsa, the INMO and SIPTU – have confirmed that they’ve served fresh pay claims on a number of employers in the sector. The unions have also welcomed confirmation that Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and the Department of Health, will join HSE at future WRC process.
Unions served the new claims in the context of an ongoing dispute about pay terms in HSE-funded agencies providing health and care services.
Employees in community and voluntary sector agencies funded by the HSE are on lesser terms and conditions than their HSE counterparts. Despite the services being funded by the State, health professional, clinical, clerical and administrative grades are paid less.
The Minister for Health acknowledged in the Dáil last October that the Government is the ‘main and often sole funder’ of these organisations, and that its funding affects the ability of agencies to improve pay and conditions.
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Earlier this week the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, and the Department of Health, confirmed they would attend the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) along with the HSE, in anticipated conciliation talks on the issue.
The departments confirmed their intention to attend at a meeting of the National Joint Council, the main industrial relations forum for the health service, comprised representatives from management and trade unions.
Until 2008, workers in these agencies received pay increases under national wage agreements. At the onset of the financial crisis they were subject to FEMPI pay cuts in line with the same cuts applied to public sector pay.
Unions secured limited pay restoration measures in 2019 but pay in these agencies remains significantly behind, and no formal mechanism for collective pay bargaining exists for workers in the sector.
The unions have said they remain available to engage with the departments and the HSE under the auspices of the WRC, and are hopeful of an imminent conciliation meeting.