A number of community and voluntary organisations are to hold indefinite strike action.
The move has been backed by the executive of the Fórsa trade union.
The organisations involved are funded by the HSE to provide day and residential services for people with mental health difficulties and disabilities among others.
Staff have been involved in a long-running dispute over pay, saying that staff doing similar roles within the HSE are paid significantly more.
The union has also pledged to fund the wages of striking staff.
As the Irish Examiner reports, Ireland’s largest public sector trade union said the action will likely involve hundreds of health and care staff as it slammed a “foot-dragging” approach by Government on pay and conditions inequality.
“Up to a third of experienced professional health and care staff are leaving their jobs in these agencies every year to take up better remunerated employment with the HSE and elsewhere,” Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan said.
2We will ballot for indefinite industrial action in a number of employments, and Fórsa will foot the wage costs of those staff who go on strike. Services will simply be brought to a halt. At this stage, no other course of action will drive the point home."
Until 2008, workers in these agencies received pay increases under national wage agreements. However, during the financial crash they were subject to Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) pay cuts in line with the same cuts applied to public sector pay.
Fórsa said limited pay restoration measures were won by unions after a battle in 2019, but the pay in these agencies remains significantly behind. Furthermore, no formal mechanism for collective pay bargaining exists for workers in the sector, according to the union.
While community, voluntary, and not-for-profit Section 39 agencies operate under agreements with the HSE, Section 56 agencies operated similarly for children’s services and are funded by Tusla.
One-day strike action by Fórsa members took place last year at agencies in Galway and Mayo, as well as St Joseph’s Foundation in Cork and Enable Ireland in Cork and Kerry.