Tuesday 20 February 2018

Community care staff threaten industrial action

Oonagh Buckley: not replaced. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Oonagh Buckley: not replaced. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Anne Marie Walsh

Some 10,000 workers providing community services including childcare and meals on wheels are threatening to take industrial action.

Siptu warned that it will ballot its members in the sector unless the Government sets up a forum to address their pay grievances. Representatives of the workers said the establishment of a High Level Forum for the Community Sector was agreed at talks on the Lansdowne Road Agreement in May last year. However, they said the forum is "still not working" and its chairperson Oonagh Buckley had not been replaced since she took over from Kieran Mulvey as Director General of the Workplace Relations Commission.

It comes after the country's largest trade union warned of New Year "strike chaos" unless the Government opens pay talks by February 1 at the latest.

Union president Jack O'Connor handed the Government an ultimatum to begin talks by next Thursday to announce details of the negotiations - or else the country faces a wave of industrial action.

Mr O'Connor said increases of €1,000 due to workers under the agreement were no longer sufficient. Meanwhile, the TEEU workshop, which represents craft workers, has called for an end to the "scourge of bogus self-employment". The workers are not covered by collective bargaining agreements, and are ineligible for membership of the industry's occupational pension scheme or holiday pay.

An estimated €80m a year is lost in PRSI contributions alone as a result of bogus self-employment, and far greater amounts in tax, as well as falling wages generally across the sector.

Irish Independent

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