Thousands of care and community sector workers taking strike action this week deserve better than a Government which continually seeks to dodge its responsibilities towards them and those who rely on the vital services they provide, says Labour Health Spokesman and Fingal TD, Duncan Smith.
After a visiting a picket line held by hundreds of SIPTU, Forsa and INMO members outside the St Joseph’s Foundation in Charleville, county Cork, Smith said: “We need a Government that will take its responsibilities to these workers and clients of the services they provide very seriously. Unlike trade union members in the public or private sector these workers have no way to negotiate a pay increase, it can only come by the Government agreeing to increase funding to their organisations. We need the Government to do as it did prior to 2008 which was to provide increases in funding to most Section 39 care and community organisations at a level which allowed them to then pay the wage increases agreed as part of national public service pay agreements.
“Many of the workers I talked to said that colleagues had left to work elsewhere or are actively considering it. That is not good enough. Their work is comparable to workers directly employed by the State who, if proposed increases in public sector pay are accepted by union members, will shortly be earning nearly 10% more than they do. This means that Government agencies such as the HSE are taking these staff but not offering to provide services for all the clients adversely affected by the flow of workers out of care and community organisations. The real victims in this are the vulnerable people they care for and the communities who rely on the services they provide.”
He added: “Across the Section 39 and community sector organisations workers are clearly saying enough is enough. They have promised to escalate their campaign of strike action over the coming weeks because they have no other option or see their standard of living collapse, organisations deteriorate and clients left in misery.
“The Labour Party is demanding that the Government stops dodging its responsibility and engage with these essential frontline workers and their unions now.”