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Government must engage with Section 39 workers - Senator Paul Gavan

21 September, 2022 - by Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has again called on the government to immediately intervene in industrial disputes involving SIPTU, Forsa and INMO members from a broad range of Section 39 workers in the health and community sectors. 

Section 39 organisations are contracted to provide services on behalf of the HSE for a funding grant in accordance with Section 39 of the Health Act 2004.

This week sees one-day stoppages by workers from the Irish Wheelchair Association, St Joseph’s Foundation, and EmployAbility in Cork, Western Care in Mayo, Ability West in Galway, Community Employment Workers in Donegal, and Enable Ireland workers from Cork and Kerry. 

All of these Section 39 community employees are frontline workers who carry out essential and life-changing work. All have been denied a pay increase for 14 years.

Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Gavan said:

"This is the second phase of justified industrial action taken by a wide range of staff from Section 39 organisations who have been ignored by successive Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil governments.

"These workers tell us that they have not had a pay rise since 2008 – 14 years ago. 

“Government ministers claim this dispute has nothing to do with them; that it is between the various private employer organisations and their workers. That is fundamentally untrue. 

“The only way these workers can secure a pay increase is through a government decision to increase the various HSE and community sector grants. The government was happy to applaud these workers during the Covid-19 crisis but now want to turn their backs on them.

“These are workers who provide essential services caring for the vulnerable; helping to connect them to their wider communities right across the state.

“The government must stop pretending these disputes have nothing to do with them. Ministers must step up and engage with unions in good faith and deliver badly needed pay rises for these vital workers.”

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