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Ireland Health Workers Declare Strike as Government Remains Unresponsive, Set to Commence Tuesday

Dublin: Health workers’ unions have firmly stated that they will proceed with their indefinite strike action commencing on Tuesday, October 17, without any alterations. Additionally, employees within community and voluntary organisations, which receive funding from the Health Service Executive and other state agencies, contend that the government failed to engage in meaningful negotiations regarding the impending strike.

Approximately 5,000 workers, spanning various roles within disability organisations throughout the country, are set to participate in this industrial action. Notable entities affected include Enable Ireland, the Irish Wheelchair Association, and Family Resource Centres.

Unions have emphasized the stark wage disparity endured by healthcare and social care professionals in HSE-funded agencies, in contrast to their counterparts in the HSE and other national organizations.

The decision to strike was reached following balloting conducted by FORSA, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization, and SIPTU. As the strike is now less than four days away, the unions have expressed their discontent over the government’s lack of engagement in talks and are demanding immediate steps to rectify the wage gap issue.

The government’s repeated disappointments in its employees have pushed workers into an unwelcome struggle, according to union leaders. They emphasise that they are not inclined to take this course of action but feel compelled to do so.

Union leaders stress that there is still an opportunity for the government to rectify the situation before the strike, which is just three days away. They urge the government to treat the matter seriously.

The government’s perspective on the matter differs, as it cites recent engagements with unions through the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), resulting in the Department of Health committing to a 5% salary increase, effective from November.

A source within the Health Department mentions that they have also pledged to revisit negotiations with trade union representatives following the implementation of the new public sector pay agreement. Regrettably, the offer was not accepted by the trade union representatives, and the government is disappointed that their members won’t have the opportunity to vote on the acceptance of a 5% salary increase in funding. The department points out that this offer was accepted by community and volunteer workers in other sectors.

Furthermore, the government underscores that it has not neglected these employees, having made promises. Section 39 and Section 56 organizations, which are privately owned and operated by the Department of Health, involve terms and conditions of employment that are ultimately matters between the employer and their employees.

Approximately 5,000 workers across 50 significant establishments are set to initiate an indefinite strike beginning on Tuesday, October 17.

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