Labour backs health and community workers strike

25 September 2023

Labour health spokesperson has demanded that Government come to the table and hammer out a deal to meet the needs of health and community workers.

Deputy Smith said:

“The results of the ballot by three unions today will come as no surprise to the Government. Workers in the health and community sector are at the absolute end of their tether. Meanwhile, this Government has utterly dragged their heels on tackling the pressing issues of pay, terms and conditions that are plaguing the health service.

“I raised the concerns of these workers as a priority question in the Dáil with the Minister last Thursday (21st September), so it is really disappointing to learn that no attempt at progress has been made.

“As far back as last November the Dáil backed our motion calling for a pay rise for these workers in line with recent public sector pay agreements, and the establishment of a standing forum and mechanism for collective bargaining on pay and conditions in the sector.

“Instead the offer that has been made to workers is derisory. Labour is demanding that Government gets serious, gets around the table with the unions and hammer out a deal to meet the real needs of the workers.

“Many workers in section 39 organisations, section 56 organisation and section 10 organisations have had no pay rise since 2008, there are serious disparities between their pay rates and that of comparable workers within the HSE and other state agencies, many don’t even have the basic allowances or leave provisions of their comparable workers such as transport allowances and there is a serious morale, recruitment and retention issue. It’s abysmal.

“Workers are forced to leave the sector in search of better pay, terms and conditions, and who can blame them?

“We know from the INMO that numbers of patients on trolleys in our hospitals are already creeping up. As respiratory illnesses increase in the weeks ahead, our hospitals will be totally overrun, and I’m very concerned about potential patient outcomes if a solution is not met to stave off the strike.

“The blame for this lies firmly at the feet of this Government. What’s needed now is progress and action to improve pay and conditions – for workers in the sector but also to future proof recruitment and retention of workers who care for us all.”

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