Labour demands pay increases for care workers

Duncan Smith TD
07 October 2022
  • Dáil will debate Labour motion re Pay Rise for Community and Voluntary Sector workers on Wednesday (12th October) at 10am
  • Section 39 care workers for people with disabilities, older persons or who require mental health supports deserve a pay rise

Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith said it’s time that workers in the community and voluntary sector get equal pay for an equal day’s work. Deputy Smith said Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have shirked their responsibilities to care workers for too long, outlining the many vital services that these workers provide to people.

Deputy Smith said:

“Thousands of workers across Section 39 bodies provide vital services in communities across Ireland. They deserve the same respect and pay restoration as other publicly funded bodies have implemented.

“This government has failed care workers, the workers who keep communities going, for too long. On Wednesday, myself and my Labour colleagues will demand that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil put the pay and conditions of these care workers in Section 39 organisations on the same footing as HSE workers.

“I joined the picket line held by SIPTU, Forsa and INMO members in Cork in September demanding that Government take its responsibilities to these workers and service users serious. This seems to have fallen on deaf ears and so on Wednesday, Labour will push again for change.

“Unlike trade union members in the public or private sector, care workers in the voluntary sector have no way to negotiate a pay increase. 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. It’s simply not fair.

“Change can only come by the Government agreeing to increase funding to their organisations which is what Labour will demand on Wednesday. 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.

“There are high rates of annual turnover of Section 39 workers – up to a third annually as per the Harvey report. Anecdotally, we have heard reports of recruiters from the NHS in the UK coming to Cork and to Dublin, headhunting Section 39 workers, offering them decent terms and conditions and acknowledging the value of the work that they do. The real victims in this are the people that they care for and the communities who rely on the services they provide. Until this government steps up to the mark for our care workers, we will continue to see the exodus of workers to other markets.

“Care workers in Section 39 and similar organisations provide an immeasurable contribution to society, filling the gaps left by the State, providing a range of vital health and personal social services. The wheels of care in this State could not turn without them. It’s time that they were treated fairly by this government. The Labour Party is demanding that the Government stops dodging its responsibility and gives these essential frontline workers the equal pay they so deserve.”

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