Thousands of health care workers consider February strike

Section 39 workers are calling for pay restoration in line with the rest of the health service

Thousands of health and social care workers could be set to strike on February 12th over pay conditions.

SIPTU is warning that workers employed by Section 39 organisations will go ahead with all-out strike action unless the Government adequately deals with their demand for pay increases.

Section 39 organisations are voluntary groups that have service legal agreements with the HSE to provide health and social care in the community.

SIPTU has won eight Labour Court recommendations confirming that the organisation’s pay should be linked with that of other health workers providing public services.

The union’s Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, says the Taoiseach acknowledged the link in early November, however nothing has changed in the time since:

“On November 8th, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed that there is a pay link between section 39 organisations and the Health Service executive and, thus far, the Taoiseach has not addressed that issue going forward in trying to encourage any kind of dialogue which would avert the action that our members feel is now necessary on February 12th.”

He said members have not seen any pay rise in line with other health workers who are beginning to see restoration – with the gap set to widen with further from January 1st.

He said that if members are forced into strike action, it could affect some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“They are direct employers – section 39 employers – which are some household names like the Irish Wheelchair Association, National Rehab, the Cheshire Foundation, and Ability West for example,” he said.

“Those organisations are maintaining that their block grant has not been increased since 2010 and that they also received direction from the HSE to cut pay at the time of the financial crisis.”

Balloting for potential strike action is currently ongoing – and if members vote yes, the industrial action will be taken on February 12th.