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SIPTU warn of strike action by Section 39 health care workers

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

SIPTU is warning 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 bodies are grant-aided organisations which provide disability and community services.

The union has won eight Labour Court recommendations confirming a pay linkage with other health workers providing public services.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, says the pay link was acknowledged by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in November, but there has still been no change.

Mr Bell said: "Thus far, the Taoiseach has not adressed 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.

"Pay restoration for thousands of workers providing public services will rightly advance again from next Tuesday. This will only grow the pay gap between our members in Section 39 organisations and their colleagues providing vital care services."

He said it makes it even more unbearable for Section 39 workers and serves to "harden their resolve" during the ballot.

Mr Bell said: "Our members have done everything possible to avoid a strike which would impact on some of Ireland’s most vulnerable citizens. Unfortunately, due to the actions and inactions of Government and the individual Section 39 employers they increasingly believe that their only option is strike action."

The union has also applied to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health for a hearing in mid-January concerning Section 39 workers' pay conditions.

Mr Bell said: "Our request for a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health hearing is to ensure that the public and elected representatives are aware of the facts concerning how our members are being forced into taking strike action.

"We have also requested that representatives of the HSE, Department of Health, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, as well as Section 39 employers’ organisations attend, so they can hear directly from workers on how pay injustice is impacting on their daily lives."