26 January 2023
By Tom Collins
Indefensible to leave health, community and care workers without a pay rise in 13 years
Labour health spokesperson, Duncan Smith and cork city rep Peter Horgan have tonight called on the Health Service Executive (HSE) to name a date for talks at Workplace Relations Commission in a final effort to bring an end to a longstanding and protracted dispute in the health, care and community sector.
Deputy Smith said:
“The Labour Party believes that the invitation to talks for the Valuing Care, Valuing Community (VCVC) campaign unions from representatives of the Department of Social Protection at the Workplace Relations Commission is a positive move. However, the HSE and other Government Departments must immediately agree to joining this process in an effort to avoid further strike action.
“It is our understanding that the currently scheduled talks will focus on pay in schemes and organisations funded by the Department of Social Protection. The management of the HSE has also indicated a willingness to attend separate WRC talks with the VCVC unions. They must name a date immediately. Unfortunately, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which ultimately funds health, community and care organisations, have indicated they currently do not intend to enter this talks process. This position is unacceptable. The Minister has the power to intervene and he must to make sure this decision is reversed.
“The move by the Department of Social Protection to engage with the VCVC unions and HSE to agree in principle is a positive development. It follows a private members’ motion in the Dáil in October 2022 which was sponsored by the Labour Party and supported by all parties. This motion called on the Government to accept the VCVC campaign demands of pay rises for workers. The success of the motion and the engagement by some government departments and agencies only came about due to the successful campaign of industrial action pursued by the members of SIPTU, Forsa and INMO in support of the VCVC campaign during 2022.”
He added: “The Labour Party will support the VCVC campaign unions escalating industrial action in organisations funded by government departments which have so far refused to accept an invitation to WRC talks. These core health, care and community workers, many of whom have not had a pay rise in 13 years. This indefensible position must end now.”
Peter Horgan said:
“Speaking with workers regularly on this matter and supporting them on picket lines recently it’s very clear they need our support against government inaction. Government departs must come to the table and Government reps must account for that.”