Home help carers mobilise to fight sharp cuts to hours
IRELAND'S 8,000-plus home help carers will mobilise in a bid to block Government proposals to slash more than 500,000 working hours.
SIPTU yesterday launched its 'Time To Care' campaign aimed at highlighting the plight of home helps whose pay and working hours have been targeted for swingeing cutbacks since 2009.
A major rally took place in Cork yesterday, with further demonstrations planned for Dublin, Limerick, Galway and Waterford.
Labour councillor Jerry Mullally said the proposed cutbacks made no sense, and they threatened to hit the most vulnerable families in the country at the worst possible time.
"The proposed cuts do not make sense on either an economic or a human level. Support for carers has already been cut to the bone," he said.
SIPTU warned Health Minister James Reilly to urgently rethink the proposals.
"The 'Time To Care' campaign is aimed at organising home helps so they can defend the vital services they provide from budget cutbacks and creeping privatisation," said a union spokesman. Opposition health spokes-man Billy Kelleher said the home help programme was the most cost-effective and valuable within the care sector and needed to be expanded.
The Campaign for a Real Health Service (CRHS) said it was outrageous for the lowest paid health workers to suffer such an income blow.
Carers have already protested outside Dr Reilly's office.
One, Margaret O'Brien, told of the case where a home help was asked to provide care for an octogenarian in a work allocation of only 30 minutes.