Care workers pay, terms and conditions crucial to ending home help waiting list

08 November 2023
  • HCSAs in HSE start on €18+ per hour compared with €13.10 offered by private sector

Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith described the Government’s response to Labour’s motion on improving access to home help as pathetic and insulting.

Deputy Smith said:

“There is a desperate lack of home help carers in this country meaning that those who need care are struggling to get the support they need to continue living independently in their homes.

“The elephant in the room on this is that Government has effectively created a two-tier employment system for the over 18,000 carers in the system.

“Improving pay, terms and conditions is crucial for ensuring we have the home help support that our population needs today and into the future. During Labour’s motion on this in the Dáil today, the Government had nothing to add. No plan to address the current or the future shortfall of care workers in this country.

“Failing to plan and failing to address the gaps in the system means that more and more people will be left with no option other than to receive care in nursing homes. We should as a State do everything we can to support people to live independently for as long as they can.

“Addressing the egregious workers’ rights issues in the sector will be key to this.

“The 5,300 healthcare assistants who work for the HSE have the benefit of collective bargaining and recognition of their union, SIPTU, which has helped make the sector a better area in which to work.

“These workers start on more than €18 an hour, among other basic entitlements such as pension provision. This is a massive jump from the €13.10 offered by the private providers to their workers.

“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have created an unfair, two-tier approach to care workers meaning that many people are carrying out the same work, for the same hours, but are paid less if they are employed by the private sector rather than the HSE directly.

“It’s wrong. We need to treat our carers fairly and continue to expand our care capacity today for the future. Improved pay and conditions are essential for supporting our older people in the community.

“People who work hard their whole life deserve proper care as they age. If we are to do this, we need to invest in our care workers, improve terms and conditions in the sector and commit to recognising the value of care work in our constitution through a referendum in 2024.

“We urge Government to heed our calls and make care work for people in Ireland.”

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