Government’s dereliction of duty for community sector and section 39 workers must end now

03 May 2022

Supporting workers from the community sector and Section 39 healthcare organisations protesting for better pay and conditions today (Tuesday, 3rd May), Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith said without meaningful government engagement, service users will be left without adequate supports.

Deputy Smith said:

“The Labour Party fully supports the calls of community workers and section 39 healthcare workers for better pay and conditions. These workers were on the frontline during the pandemic whether that was by keeping our hospitals clean, providing at home supports or keeping disability services operational when they were needed most. They isolated from family to protect themselves and service users. They donned PPE and worked in congregated settings. These workers, like our cleaners, porters, nurses in hospitals, cannot continue to be forgotten about by the State.

“These workers need a pay rise. They carry out the most vital work for people in our community. Failure to provide these workers with the pay rise that they need, due to the cost of living crisis, and the improved conditions that they deserve will have a detrimental impact on the service users who rely on them.

“It is a dereliction of duty for the government to continue to ignore their calls. I would urge government to step up and engage in meaningful talks and negotiations to have their demands met. It is not unreasonable to ask for pay increases in line with inflation, security of employment, pensions and sick pay cover.

“It’s beyond time for Minister to engage with Section 39 workers and ensure this situation is resolved. I have been raising the concerns of Section 39 workers across organisations such as hospices, community care and rehab facilities, and the Irish Wheelchair Association with this government over the past number of months. These bodies took pay cuts through their block grant in the crash alongside similar reductions in the public service but have not seen similar pay restoration through their grants.

“Coming out of Covid we need to look at how we treat care in this country. These workers cannot continue to be failed by government.”

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