Irish Wheelchair Association workers need a pay rise

05 July 2022

Labour spokesperson on health and disability, Duncan Smith has called on the Taoiseach, Michael Martin to personally intervene in an effort to settle an escalating dispute between unions and community sector employers by giving thousands of community and care workers a pay rise.

The call comes following the commencement of a two-day stoppage in Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) locations across the country.

Speaking from an IWA picket line in Dublin, Deputy Smith said:

“Care and community sector workers from across the country are taking a stand for pay justice today and demanding their first wage rise in more than 14 years. They have no option and the Government needs to take notice and I am appealing to the Taoiseach to do what is necessary to settle the dispute and stop any further impact on services.

“These workers are earning the same wages they did in 2008. This means in all reality that while they have been delivering vital services to their communities, they have suffered a major cut in the value of their wage which is just not sustainable any longer. Something has to give.

“What unites community and care workers is that they fill the gaps left by the State. They are often a lifeline for the most marginalised people in our society.

“Effective and swift Government action can easily resolve this dispute. The Taoiseach has the power to instruct his Government colleagues to take the EU Directive on Minimum Wages seriously and move to establish a long promised collective bargaining forum for the community sector. This mechanism will allow these workers to negotiate fair pay and conditions rather than being forced to take to the picket line.

“How the government handles this dispute may also indicate what will be its approach to the growing demand for pay rises across the economy as workers struggle with a cost-of-living crisis which is now being made much worse by soaring inflation. If the Government pursues an agenda of stonewalling the legitimate demands of care and community workers, we could be heading into a very stormy period of industrial relations with a real summer of discontent on the horizon.”

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