Monday 11 December 2017

Community groups ballot over public pay

Anne-Marie Walsh

THOUSANDS of workers in state-funded community and voluntary groups are set to ballot for industrial action over the public sector pay cut.

Unions revealed last night that they planned to hold a ballot for the workers for the first time, giving them the option of joining the public sector union campaign.

Sources said unions previously held back on including the workers in industrial action after the imposition of the pension levy because it could have severely affected the disability sector.

A spokesperson for the Department of Finance said all workers who paid the pension levy would be affected by the pay cut.

Union sources said this would include staff at disability and care organisations who are on HSE rates and pay into the state pension scheme.

They said staff at St Michael's House, St John of God Services, and services provided by the Brothers of Charity and Daughters of Charity for vulnerable groups will be hit.

In addition, he said a second group of tens of thousands of workers who did not pay the pension levy but will be hit by the pay cut will also be balloted.

This group includes workers in voluntary groups and community projects whose employers are grant-funded by the HSE.

The sector includes childcare and pre-school groups, youth groups, and the Red Cross.

Deputy leader of the Labour Party, Joan Burton, accused the Government of trying to extend the scope of the public sector pay cuts "by stealth".

She claimed the HSE was writing to voluntary organisations and agencies it may only partly fund, instructing them to apply the wage cuts.

"A HSE memo to one organisation the party has seen says, 'the provisions will also apply to staff in grant-aided agencies that are not specifically included in the pay cut legislation".

"If the HSE adopts this approach in regard to all organisations it funds it means that the pay cuts will apply to thousands of low-paid workers in community and voluntary organisations. If this approach is adopted by other funding state agencies it will apply to tens of thousands."

Irish Independent

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