FURTHER strike action is inevitable unless the HSE engage meaningfully with Section 39 workers, it has been warned.
Hundreds of staff in state-funded organisations across Cork took part in a strike on Friday morning in a dispute over pay restoration.
Trade unions Siptu and Fórsa served notice for a 24-hour stoppage at the National Council of the Blind In Ireland; Western Alzheimer’s; Co-Action Bantry; South West Doctors; St Joseph’s Killorglin, Co Kerry and Valentia Hospital, SouthDoc and more.
The dispute centres around the refusal of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) to honour a recent pay restoration agreement.
Section 39 workers are classed as private-sector workers but their employers are grant-aided by the HSE to provide services mainly in the health and social services sectors.
Traditionally, their pay has been linked to rates in the public service.
Sharon Cregan, SIPTU Organiser for Cork, said dozens of people turned out at Co-Action in Skibbereen to support the strike.
She said that people who used the service turned out in solidarity with the workers.
Ms Cregan hit out at the previous government’s failure to engage and honour a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) agreement from more than two years ago.
“These people deserve what they are owed,” said Ms Cregan.
“We hope that there will be engagement in the coming days, but at the same time we are not very hopeful.
“The failure of the government to uphold their end of the deal led to the strike on Friday,” she added.
“Unless there is meaningful engagement, there will be a further escalation and more strike action.”
Ms Cregan said what form the action might take and when it will take place will be decided by the unions in the coming days.
The strike also impacted SouthDoc, the GP out-of-hours service across Cork, where up to 100 staff were on strike last night.
SouthDoc management only text GPs to inform them of the strike less than three hours before clinics were due to open.
Management informed GPs that there would be just one driver on call along with one receptionist on call in the call centre, which is based in Killarney, and that treatment centres will not be staffed.
However, it is understood that all members on picket duty during the service would be required to attend medical emergencies as necessary.