Workers in a range of non-governmental health and social service providers (Section 39 organisations) will begin strike action on 15 December. This is the latest stage in long-running campaign to ensure that workers in these bodies see their pay restored to pre-austerity levels in line with directly employed public sector workers. The action will be staggered across different organisations and will continue into January. Meanwhile, public sector unions have agreed to start talks with government over a new collective agreement on pay and conditions. The current Public Service Stability
Social care workers in Kerry and Cork have voted for industrial action in what is set to be a national campaign of strikes across what are called Section 39 organisations. These are non-government, publicly funded bodies that provide health and social services. In 2018 there was an agreement that employees in these organisations would, in line with the public sector, get pay rises to compensate for the cuts imposed during austerity. They are still waiting for this pay restoration and as many as 250 organisations across the country could be hit by strike action over the coming weeks. SIPTU
Public service unions Fórsa and SIPTU have called for urgent action to better protect healthcare and childcare staff against the COVID-19 virus. Fórsa says that figures show over 9000 health workers were infected at the beginning of last month and that many are being pushed back to work too quickly by local management in response to increased demand and shortages of staff. Meanwhile, SIPTU has been making a case for a change in a approach in the childcare sector where there is no requirement to wear masks or implement social distancing. The union wants a review of procedures, for staff to be
Public services union Fórsa has suspended industrial action by school secretaries planned to begin on 23 October. This was to be part of a long-running campaign to end a two-tier pay system that leaves most school secretaries earning just €12,500 a year, with irregular, short-term contracts that force them to sign on to receive benefits during the summer holidays and other school breaks. Following a commitment from the government the union has agreed to talks at the Workplace Relations Commission which will begin on 27 October.
Public service unions may be involved in new industrial action in two long-running disputes unless the government intervenes. The Forsa trade union has already set dates for strike action to try to resolve the two-tier pay system affecting school secretaries. Following the announcement of the action the government has made a commitment to address the problem but the union wants to see concrete proposals before it calls off the action. Meanwhile, Forsa is joined by SIPTU and INMO in considering a campaign of targeted action across non-profit providers of health and social services - Section 39
The Forsa public services union has negotiated a new agreement covering pharmacists in acute hospitals that includes a number of major improvements to pay and conditions. These include a shorter pay scale, an enhanced career structure, additional specialist and new senior posts, in addition to greater protections on the issue of weekend services, out of hours and extended working days. The union will now submit a similar claim to cover pharmacists working in community facilities.
The SIPTU union has called on the government to set a budget that includes a guaranteed living wage for all childcare workers along with a sick pay scheme. The living wage is €12.30 an hour while the average wage in the sector is €11.46 and the union argues that higher pay will be important in reducing the 40% staff turnover among childcare workers. SIPTU also points out that 79% of childcare workers don't have a sick pay scheme and this is inhibiting the sector's response to ensuring safe workplaces for both workers and children.
Public service unions SIPTU, Forsa and INMO have been involved in protests and are calling for action to support 200 workers who have lost their jobs following the closure of three care facilities run by the Dublin Sisters of Charity. Although independent the charity received significant public funding by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the unions want the HSE to be involved in negotiations over a fair redundancy package for the workers.
Public services union Fórsa believes that working time should be an important element of any discussion around telework/remote working. The union is preparing a response to a government consultation on remote working as well as a guide for negotiators. It is estimated that up to a third of employees in Ireland were remote working at the height of the COVID-19 emergency and the union now wants to ensure that conditions for telework are fully negotiated with proper safeguards and that emergency arrangements are not simply made permanent.
The SIPTU health union has reiterated its demand that the government publishes full details of where over 7,600 workers have tested positive for Covid-19. The union says that the data is needed to identify any Covid-19 hotspots and to understand if health workers were exposed due to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) or poor enforcement of protocols. It will also allow the union to find out how these workers were treated by their employer. SIPTU is also concerned about health workers taken on by employment agencies who are not covered by Covid-19 paid leave or ‘death in service’
Trade unions representing health workers - INMO, SIPTU and Forsa - have been highly critical of the government's failure to come up with an effective plan to provide childcare for nurses, midwives and other care workers. Unions report that many health workers are staying away from work or using annual leave or sick leave as they have no childcare provision. Those who can find childcare are often paying high costs and proposals and unions are saying that proposals that offer leave for partners of health workers fail to recognise the limitation of the measure. Unions are particularly
The SIPTU and Forsa trade unions organised strike action across publicly-funded (Section 39) health and social services organisations on 21 February as part of a long-running campaign to get workers' pay restored following the cuts that were implemented as part of austerity measures. Many of these workers do the same or similar jobs as directly employed public servants who have seen their pay restored. The threat of strike action lead to a deal for around 500 home care workers who suspended their action, but many other workers are continuing their campaign to try to secure an agreement.
The Forsa and SIPTU trade unions are continuing to protest and organise industrial action in long-running disputes involving their members in health, social and community services. Many workers in so-called Section 39 publicly-funded organisations provide health and social services but have been denied the kind of pay restoration provided to directly-employed public sector workers in these services. Meanwhile, community employment advisors took strike action on 14 February in the latest step in their campaign for the implementation of a 2008 Labour Court recommendation on their rights to
Following the strike action by school secretaries on 10 January and subsequent industrial action (work-to-rule), Forsa their trade union has agreed to return to talks with the government that are being held by the Workplace Relations Committee conciliation service. The strike action is over the poor pay and conditions suffered by around 2000 school secretaries employed on precarious contracts by local schools (see last issue of EPSU Collective Bargaining News). Forsa is looking for real and significant progress in the talks otherwise the industrial action will re-start.