FAQs – Community and Voluntary Sector: Industrial Action

Section 39, 10 and 56 agencies: Pay Dispute 2023.

Please note this is a live document and will be updated as further FAQs arise.

Last updated: 17th October 2023

UPDATE: The strike due to take place on the 17 October, beginning at 8am, has been suspended following agreement between all parties at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). A proposal was agreed that acknowledges that workers in Section 39, 10 and 56 agencies deserve pay equality.

Read more here.

Industrial Action

We are advising our members that industrial action in the form of an indefinite strike will commence on Tuesday 17th October. Notice of this strike was served to employers on Monday 25th September. This follows a secret ballot of members which returned a 99.5% vote in favour of taking industrial action.

The Divisional Executive Committee has established a dispute committee to oversee the industrial action. Local Strike Committees are in the process of being set up.

Last year, strike action took place between the 21st and 23rd September 2022, receiving support from the public and political parties alike. In October 2022, the Minister for Health acknowledged in the Dáil that the Government is the “main and often sole funder” of these organisations, and its funding affects the ability to improve pay and conditions.

After engagement at the WRC, the Government put forward a proposal of a 5% increase to workers. The unions have been consistent and clear: we are seeking the full terms of the Building Momentum agreement (9.5% increase) and a process that would ultimately seek to restore the link to public service pay in the future.

Ultimately, the proposal presented from the official side caused a complete breakdown in talks.

For more information on the background of this dispute see here: Community and Voluntary Sector Dispute: Explainer.

This strike is led by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Fórsa, SIPTU and the INMO. We remain united in the common goal of achieving fair and equal pay for members working across these vital services. The strike action will involve thousands of health and community workers in a variety of grades and in multiple locations.

The strike action will take place in the following organisations:

• Ardeen Cheshire Ireland
• Ability West
• Cheshire Ireland
• Cheshire Dublin
• Cheshire Home Newcastle West
• Co-action West Cork
• Cobh Hospital
• Daughters Of Charity Child and Family Service
• DePaul Ireland
• Don Bosco Care
• Enable Ireland (nationwide, including Cork, Tralee, East Coast and Midwest regions)
• Family Resource Centres
• Irish Wheelchair Association
• Kerry Parents and Friends
• St. Catherines Association Ltd
• St. Josephs Foundation
• St. Lukes Nursing Home
• Western Care Association

On Tuesday 17th October at 8am.

You will receive a series of emails from 6th October onwards, that outline the steps to receive strike pay. If you haven't received them yet, or have any questions, email hwballot2023@forsa.ie.

Please ensure you complete all of the steps and provide the right information. If you have any difficulties with this, please email  hwballot2023@forsa.ie.as soon as possible.

The industrial action takes the form of a 24/7 indefinite strike. The strike will continue until there is an appropriate resolution.

You should fill out the online registration form sent to you and select a picket location before October 11th.

If there is more than one picket location of your employer, you can choose the location that is most convenient to you. You cannot attend a picket of another employer.

Picketing times will be determined at a local level and may differ depending on employer/location. Members will be advised by your local Strike Committee.

No. Members may be rostered to attend pickets at different times.

Officials will be present at each picket and will manage a sign in and out system, to register attendance, and manage materials.

These decisions can be made locally. We will aim to be as flexible as possible while ensuring a strong presence is maintained at each picket location.

Members will be emailed directly to advise of their local Strike Committee.

Fórsa are ready to meet with employers to discuss and agree contingency planning for emergency services. However, this strike will bring a halt to vital services.

Explain the reasons behind the dispute and ask them to show their support. Many employer organisations and parent organisations have already come out in support of this dispute.

For example, Enable Ireland said:

“For many years, Enable Ireland has advocated for pay parity for our staff and we fully support staff demands to permanently align pay scales on an equitable basis with their peers in the HSE and Section 38 voluntary organisations.
Our valued employees are essential to deliver the critical services to children and adults and their families for which we are contracted by HSE to provide each year. This pay inequity has created a recruitment and retention crisis for Enable Ireland’s services resulting in significant vacancies in teams across children’s and adult services.”

Read Enable Ireland’s statement here. The Wheel, Ireland’s National Association of Charities, has also issued a strong statement of support which you can read here.

In January 2023, the Fórsa National Executive Committee (NEC) voted to cover the wages of all Fórsa members who go on strike as part of this industrial action.

Strike Pay will only be paid to those who joined the union by midnight, Wednesday, October 11th.

Members participating in the strike action will receive Strike Pay for each day of the strike. This is equivalent to net daily rate of pay.

To ensure you are paid, you must register and complete all of the steps outlined in the email issued to you by Fórsa specifically on strike pay.

If you have pre-approved annual leave, you will be paid by your employer in line with your annual leave policy.

You can choose to attend a picket to support your colleagues, however, you will not receive Strike Pay.

If you are unfit for work, you should not attend the workplace or picket. You may be entitled to sick pay depending on your employer’s sick leave policy.

If you are unable to attend due to illness, you will not receive Strike Pay.

If you work for the HSE or a Section 38 organisation, you must attend work as usual. You should not be carrying out the duties of your colleagues on strike during the period of this action.

Have you thought about joining the union? Your colleagues are fighting hard for your rights. The more people who join, the more strength we have. It’s never been easier to join Fórsa.

Once your membership has been ratified, you must follow the strike instruction.

You should contact your local workplace or branch representative in the first instance. If you are unsure of who to contact, please contact your closest Fórsa office:

• Cork 021 4255 210 forsacork@forsa.ie
• Limerick 061 319 177 forsalimerick@forsa.ie
• Galway 091 778 031 forsagalway@forsa.ie
• Sligo 071 914 2400 forsasligo@forsa.ie
• Dublin Head Office: 01 8171500 healthandwelfareinfo@forsa.ie

There’s never been a better time to join a union, and it’s never been easier. Join Fórsa today.