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Gavan Condemns Working Conditions in Private Nursing Homes

14 December, 2016 - by Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has condemned the prevalence of Zero and Low hour contracts and, low pay in the private nursing homes sector. Speaking in the Seanad today, Senator Gavan read into the record of the house a typical employment contract for the sector which required workers to be available to work “a variety of shifts including days, nights evenings and weekends” while at the same time stating that the employer “could not guarantee any set working hours”. 

Senator Gavan said:

“The worker in this instance is paid the princely sum of €9.58 an hour which includes a 3.5% premium paid for working nights and weekends. These rates of pay are a disgrace.”

Senator Gavan, formerly a trade union official in SIPTU, has experience of organising workers in the sector declared:

“This industry is characterised by zero and low hour contracts, and low pay. Most private nursing home employers refuse to engage with trade unions. Thousands of workers, including many migrant workers who live in constant fear of losing hours if they complain about conditions, are employed on these contracts which give no guarantees with regard to hours worked.”

Senator Gavan raised the issue in response to a call from Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke for the Minister for Health to address the issue of the HSE recruiting people from private nursing homes.

“Let’s have the Minister come into the Chamber and have a debate that examines the pay and conditions in the sector and lets have no more lobbying on behalf of Nursing Homes Ireland in this chamber.” 

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