Thousands of health workers in the community and voluntary sector are due to commence an “indefinite strike” from October 17th.
A joint statement from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Fórsa, INMO and SIPTU said community and voluntary sector agencies funded by the HSE and other state agencies will begin a nationwide strike in three weeks.
The organisations that will be impacted include Enable Ireland, the Irish Wheelchair Association and Family Resource Centres.
Fórsa Spokesperson Niall Shanahan said workers employed in agencies funded by the HSE are paid significantly less than workers employed directly by the HSE and other State bodies.
“All three unions returned ballots overwhelmingly in favor of industrial action and notices being served on a number of selected employers,” he said.
Workers 'left behind'
According to Mr Shanahan, there is a difference in pay of “about 10% to 20%” between workers directly employed in public services and community health workers.
“Community and voluntary sector workers have been left behind,” he said.
“It means the agencies they work in, like Enable Ireland delivering very important disability services, are struggling to hold on to staff.
“They're seeing a churn of about 30% per year of staff walking out the door to take jobs elsewhere.
“We have workers leaving the community and voluntary sector to take the same type of work but on better terms and conditions in the state sector with the agency or other agencies.”
He said the link between public sector staff and community workers' pay should be reestablished.
“It would mean that these agencies aren't falling into having to spend more money on recruitment every year in order to try and replace the staff who have left,” he said.
“For every new person that they have coming in, trained and walking in the door to start work, they're losing three people.”