Community and voluntary sector workers need a pay rise

31 March 2023

Responding to news that SIPTU, Fórsa, and the INMO have served fresh pay claims on employers in the community and voluntary sector, Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith TD has demanded a pay rise for workers in the sector.

Deputy Smith said:

“Community and voluntary workers care for the most vulnerable people in our society. Without them, our care system would collapse, and citizens across the country would be left isolated and without any support system. Whether they provide rape crisis support, work with people experiencing homelessness, or support disabled people to live independently in their own homes, these workers perform everyday heroism to keep State services running. They deserve respect, and a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.

“However, these workers are paid considerably less than equivalent staff in the HSE and other State bodies.

“Unlike trade union members in the public or private sector, care workers in the voluntary sector have no way to negotiate a pay increase. Many have no right to the fundamental employment rights all workers should expect, such as paid annual leave, paid maternity leave and access to pension schemes. This disparity exists despite the services being funded by the State.

“The treatment of these essential care-giving workers is an indictment of the government’s understanding of the importance of care.

“Nearly six months have passed since the government waived through a Labour Party Dáil motion to grant a long-overdue pay increase to workers in the community and voluntary sector.

“Since then, the price of food, fuel and housing has continued to spiral. Yet thousands of workers across Section 39 bodies and other HSE-funded agencies struggle to make ends meet.

“During the debate on our motion, the Minister for Health acknowledged that the government is the ‘main and often sole funder’ of these organisations. Despite that acknowledgement, nothing has changed. It is a dereliction of duty.

“The news of yet another pay claim serves as a reminder of the need for the Minister for Health to put his money where his mouth is and immediately establish a process for dealing with this matter once and for all. Indeed, the Minister is on the record saying that a WRC process could resolve this issue; he needs to do all in his power to make this happen. It is time to end the empty platitudes and move to immediately set up a process of engagement. Community and voluntary sector workers need a pay rise. The government must not allow another six months to pass before they begin to value care.”

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