Fórsa members' news bulletin - Fórsa members' news bulletin: Health & Welfare - Wednesday 5th February 2020 http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/ en-us 05 Feb 2020 07:13:17 GMT 05 Feb 2020 07:13:17 GMT http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/rss.xml Newsweaver info@forsa.ie (Fórsa trade union) support@newsweaver.ie (Newsweaver) 60 true Election survey cites pay, health, hours and housing http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/1lc1i6ci7wv?rss=true A survey of over 7,000 public servants has found that substantial majorities are prepared to vote for parties they haven’t previously supported depending on the basis of policies on pay, healthcare, housing, childcare, and the four-day week. 03 Feb 2020 12:00:00 GMT 942cc71ca664857c4a3f016ef81c775e Feature Article Bernard Harbor <p>A survey of over 7,000 public servants has found that substantial majorities are prepared to vote for parties they haven’t previously supported depending on the basis of policies on pay, healthcare, housing, childcare, and the four-day week.</p> <p>A survey of over 7,000 public servants has found that substantial majorities are prepared to vote for parties they haven’t previously supported depending on the basis of policies on pay, healthcare, housing, childcare, and the four-day week.</p> <p> </p> <p>The poll, conducted by Amárach Research for Fórsa, found that 88% of public servants said public service pay policy was either an important, or a very important factor in determining how they would vote on 8th February.</p> <p> </p> <p>Almost two-thirds (63%) said they would consider voting for parties they hadn’t voted for in the past if they pledged inflation-plus pay increases, while only 9% said they would not consider doing so. More than half (53%) said they would refuse to vote for parties that didn’t pledge inflation-busting rises.</p> <p> </p> <p>A whopping 94% said it was unacceptable that higher-paid public servants are having their pay fully restored to pre-crisis levels, while those on lower incomes are still working extra unpaid hours introduced during the recession.</p> <p> </p> <p>Over two-thirds (68%) said this could influence their vote on Saturday week, while only 15% said the issue would definitely not influence their choice of candidate.</p> <p> </p> <p>Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan said the survey was the first significant attempt to identify the factors that will determine how Ireland’s 300,000 public servants will vote in a general election.</p> <p> </p> <p>“There are four stand-out messages from our survey. First, public servants care most about the same issues – particularly housing, health, living costs, and childcare – as the rest of Ireland. Second, public service pay is definitely an issue for a significant proportion of the electorate.</p> <p> </p> <p>“Third, public servants are prepared to change their voting behaviour on the basis of party positions on the issues they care most about. And fourth, public servants will turn up to vote on Saturday week,” he said.</p> <p> </p> <p>The poll, which took place between Thursday 23rd and Tuesday 28th January, also found that:</p> <p> </p> <p>• 88% of public servants said they would back parties they haven’t previously voted for if they pledged increased investment in community health services as part of a move towards free healthcare for all (4% said they would not; 9% don’t know)</p> <p><br />• 79% of public servants said they would back parties they haven’t previously voted for if they pledged to support a four-day week, or other mechanisms to reduce working time, without loss of pay or productivity (7% said they would not; 14% don’t know)</p> <p><br />• 79% of public servants said they would back parties they haven’t previously voted for if they committed to a large-scale public home-building programme to address the housing and homelessness crisis (6% said they would not; 14% don’t know)</p> <p><br />• 71% of public servants said they would back parties they haven’t previously voted for if they pledged to support publicly-provided and funded affordable childcare for working people (9% said they would not; 19% don’t know)</p> <p><br />• 65% of public servants said they would back parties they haven’t previously voted for if they committed to an early referendum to ensure that Ireland’s water services remain in public ownership (10% said they would not; 25% don’t know)</p> <p><br />• 59% of public servants said they would back parties they haven’t previously voted for if they pledged to require employers to publish their organisation’s gender pay gap (10% said they would not; 31% don’t know).</p> <p> </p> <p>Almost all (99%) of the 7,148 Fórsa members who participated in the online survey said they intended to vote in the general election, although a very significant 27% remained undecided about who would get their support.</p> <p> </p> <p>Just 4% of respondents identified tax as the single biggest issue in the election, way behind health (22%), housing and homelessness (18%), wages and salaries (17%), the cost of living (12%), and climate change (7%).</p> <p> </p> <p>Of the 7,148 respondents:</p> <p> </p> <p>• 73% were female.</p> <p><br />• 5% were under 30 years of age.</p> <p><br />• 52% were between 31 and 50 years of age.</p> <p><br />• 43% were over 50 years of age.</p> <p><br />• 28% were from Dublin city and county.</p> <p><br />• 26% were from Leinster (not including Dublin city and county).</p> <p><br />• 26% were from Munster.</p> <p><br />• 20% were from Connacht/Ulster.</p> <p> </p> <p>Members in private companies and commercial semi-state bodies were not polled as the intention was to identify opinion among public servants and those on linked pay scales.</p> Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan said the survey was the first significant attempt to identify the factors that will determine how Ireland’s 300,000 public servants will vote in a general election. http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/5921bb1c68c9882e4ee233bc/election2020.jpg http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/1d8da11ac6c02ed2770704d3/kc_3.jpg Coy parties leave public service pay in play http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/1fje3fhlqzq?rss=true A spat over public service pay broke out between the two main parties in the middle of the election campaign when Fine Gael pledged average annual pay increases of 2.5% in the four years following 2020, while accusing Fianna Fáil of planning a pay freeze. 29 Jan 2020 12:00:00 GMT 421555629f3b75efd636c6c9ca61a39c Articles A Bernard Harbor <p>A spat over public service pay broke out between the two main parties in the middle of the election campaign when Fine Gael pledged average annual pay increases of 2.5% in the four years following 2020, while accusing Fianna Fáil of planning a pay freeze.</p> <p>A spat over public service pay broke out between the two main parties in the middle of the election campaign when Fine Gael pledged average annual pay increases of 2.5% in the four years following 2020, while accusing Fianna Fáil of planning a pay freeze.</p> <p> </p> <p>Later the same day, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar took the highly unusual step of writing to Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan to ask him to spread the word among our members.</p> <p> </p> <p>The union, which expects to negotiate a successor to the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) once a new government is formed after the election, had earlier issued its <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/1ceqhwql5x7/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">own assessment</a> of where the two largest parties stood.</p> <p> </p> <p>On the basis of manifesto statements and media comments, the union judged that the two big beasts were effectively budgeting for continued real wage stagnation in the public service and non-commercial semi-state sector.</p> <p> </p> <p>It said their figures suggested annual increases of between 1.3% and 2.1% at most, at a time when the central statistics office (CSO) says average private sector earnings are rising by nearly 4% a year.</p> <p> </p> <p>Experts, including the union-backed Nevin Economic Research Institute, are predicting minimum average annual wage growth of 3.5% in the coming years.</p> <p> </p> <p>In truth, no party is going to set out a detailed position in advance of negotiations. We wouldn’t either. But, in an effort to inform members, Fórsa put pay and working time at the <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/39mj4o58zm6/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">top of the list of questions</a> it put to all the political parties in the first full week of the election campaign.</p> <p> </p> <p>Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour and the Social Democrats commit to negotiate a new pay deal in their manifestos and, when prompted by Fórsa, the others said they would too. All were fairly short on details.</p> <p> </p> <p>Fianna Fáil said it would establish a new Public Service Pay Commission, which would “prepare the basis for” a new agreement that would also incorporate new entrants’ pay. Fine Gael stressed its preference for a “sustainable deal,” which would “introduce a bargaining clause…to make progress on sectoral issues.”</p> <p> </p> <p>Sinn Féin placed great emphasis on “frontline staff,” saying it would ensure that “funding goes where it is needed to recruit and retain the people who deliver on the frontline.” It also said it would “deliver for low and middle-income workers.”</p> <p> </p> <p>Meanwhile, Labour said it would engage, and would include the establishment of “a structured, fair and sustainable funding model for Section 39 agencies to underpin services and ensure fair pay” in the talks agenda.</p> <p> </p> <p>None of the parties except PBP/Solidarity specifically committed to inflation-plus increases – which the union asked them to do. Fine Gael values its offer at 2.5% a year, which is above the current inflation rate. But it also singles out nurses for specific additional increases, which would presumably bring the average down for everyone else.</p> <p> </p> <p>In fairness, ours was a hard question as the answer depends on future inflation rates and the length of any post-PSSA agreement. The two parties (FF and FG) that put figures on their offers did so in the context of a five-year government programme, though it’s rare for public service deals to exceed three years’ duration.</p> <p> </p> <p>Despite being specifically asked, most of the parties said even less – nothing in fact – on their attitudes to additional working time introduced for many public servants during the recession.</p> <p> </p> <p>They might regret this, seeing that Fórsa’s pre-election <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/icjbyglhteu/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">opinion survey</a> found that over two-thirds of respondents’ votes could be swayed by this and other ‘two-tier’ hangovers from the crisis years.</p> <p> </p> <p>Indeed, a whopping 94% of our respondents said it was unacceptable that higher-paid public servants were having their pay fully restored to pre-crisis levels, while those on lower incomes are still working extra unpaid hours introduced during the recession.</p> <p> </p> <p>On the broader issue of working time, the Labour manifesto pledges to “review the evidence” for a shorter working week, including a four-day week, without loss of pay.”</p> <p> </p> <p>The Soc Dems say they’ll establish a commission to research and trial “the introduction of a right to flexible work,” including a four-day week, so long as it works “for large and small employers.” The Greens don’t have the four-day week in their manifesto but, when prompted, they told us they'd explore it.</p> <p> </p> <p>Meanwhile Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael both talk about exploring more flexible working time arrangements. Again PBP are silent on the matter.</p> <p> </p> <p>So where does it all leave us?</p> <p> </p> <p>The three biggest parties plus Labour and the Social Democrats are explicitly in favour of doing a new public service pay deal. When prompted, the others told us they will do a deal, though the absence of any reference in their manifestos suggests it’s hardly top-of-mind for the Greens and PBP.</p> <p> </p> <p>Fine Gael and, to a lesser extent, Fianna Fáil, have done some thinking on what they plan to spend. But it’s not encouraging in light of Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan’s repeated calls for movement on working time and significant pay increases in light of economic and exchequer improvements that have outstripped everyone’s expectations when the PSSA was signed in 2017.</p> <p> </p> <p>Only Fine Gael explicitly mentions a sectoral dimension to future talks, which is something Fórsa has pressed for. But, by singling out one group for specific treatment (see above) they may have complicated the task of reaching a deal.</p> <p> </p> <p>Overall, the main players left me with the impression that we’re facing a tough negotiation regardless of who ends up in government. On the other hand, the details of any possible outcome remain very much in play.</p> <p> </p> <p>Bernard Harbor is Fórsa’s head of communications.</p> On the basis of manifesto statements and media comments, the union judged that the two big beasts were effectively budgeting for continued real wage stagnation in the public service and non-commercial semi-state sector. http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/514f3e8c3bcfd4c951c7f1f4/pay.jpg http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/ed7f485785dd2697d9547800/money.jpg Sláintecare widely supported in manifestos http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/sd03pq7cmhe?rss=true Four parties – Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, the Greens and Social Democrats – give unequivocal support to the full implementation of Sláintecare in their 2020 election offers. Fianna Fáil and Labour give partial support, while Solidarity/PBP give no clear support for the policy. 03 Feb 2020 12:00:00 GMT 291e62295761d1d4b9a23ab544a2a94e Articles A Bernard Harbor <p>Four parties – Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, the Greens and Social Democrats – give unequivocal support to the full implementation of Sláintecare in their 2020 election offers. Fianna Fáil and Labour give partial support, while Solidarity/PBP give no clear support for the policy.</p> <p>Four parties – Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, the Greens and Social Democrats – give unequivocal support to the full implementation of Sláintecare in their 2020 election offers. Fianna Fáil and Labour give partial support, while Solidarity/PBP give no clear support for the policy.</p> <p><br />That’s according to the <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/g1xnf7jlpyx/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">political parties’ responses</a> to a range of issues raised with them during the election campaign, which Fórsa published today.</p> <p><br />All the parties give full or partial support to investment in mental health services, while all but Solidarity/PBP give full or partial support to recruiting more health and social care professionals.</p> <p><br />The union’s assessments are based on party manifestos and other official election pledges. Fórsa also sent a draft to each party to give them the opportunity to clarify their positions if they wanted to.</p> <p><br />The union prioritised <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/1jn787jn1tg/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pay and working time</a> in its questions to the parties. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour and the Social Democrats commit to negotiate a new pay deal in their manifestos and, when prompted by Fórsa, the others said they would too.</p> <p> </p> <p>All were fairly short on details, and there was scant support for addressing the additional working time introduced for many public servants during the crisis.</p> <p> </p> <p>The only two polices that every party supported was large-scale investment in house building, and legislation to compel companies to declare their gender pay gaps.</p> <p> </p> <p>See the full details of party positions <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/g1xnf7jlpyx/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">HERE</a>.</p> <p><br />See our analysis of party positions on pay and related issues <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/1jn787jn1tg/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">HERE</a>. </p> <p> </p> All the parties give full or partial support to investment in mental health services, while all but Solidarity/PBP give full or partial support to recruiting more health and social care professionals. http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/e4a74f7c036daecc03d96f74/slaintecare-1024x341.png http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/e4a74f7c036daecc03d96f74/slaintecare-1024x341.png Three parties back ‘Section 39’ funding http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/1kx51ph72p8?rss=true The Labour Party, Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats have expressed their support for a new funding model for ‘Section 39’ agencies, under which community and voluntary sector organisations are funded to deliver care and other services by the HSE. 04 Feb 2020 12:00:00 GMT 7dfdd24ecdd8d50ef89f6203b81c9d08 Articles A Niall Shanahan <p>The Labour Party, Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats have expressed their support for a new funding model for ‘Section 39’ agencies, under which community and voluntary sector organisations are funded to deliver care and other services by the HSE.</p> <p>The Labour Party, Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats have expressed their support for a new funding model for ‘Section 39’ agencies, under which community and voluntary sector organisations are funded, to deliver care and other services by the HSE.</p> <p><br />Fórsa members working in a small number of agencies are currently <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/1kyqhw6nr3m/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">being balloted</a> for industrial action in the latest phase of the union’s campaign for pay justice in independent organisations that rely on State funding to deliver vital health and care services.</p> <p><br />So far, the campaign for pay justice has resulted in €1,000 payments for workers in 50 organisations. Fórsa is committed to completing the process of pay restoration for workers in the community and voluntary sector.</p> <p><br />Next week (Friday 14th February), Section 39 members from Fórsa and SIPTU will join CE supervisors and assistant supervisors in a march and rally, concluding at the offices of the Department of Finance, to highlight the failure to complete the process of pay restoration in Section 39 agencies.</p> <p><br />Unions will rally behind a message for the new government: “Unfinished business: Don’t ignore community services.”</p> <p><br /><strong>Support</strong></p> <p><br />Fórsa sought responses to a range of issues raised with political parties during the election campaign, which Fórsa <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/7k1hh825uko/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">published today</a>. On the issue of developing a new funding model for ‘Section 39’ agencies, Labour, Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats expressed their support, with all three parties including the commitment in their manifestos.</p> <p><br />The union’s assessments are based on party manifestos and other official election pledges. Fórsa also sent a draft to each party to give them the opportunity to clarify their positions if they wanted to.</p> <p><br />Fórsa official Catherine Keogh said: “While support from these three parties is welcome, it remains to be seen if the next government is serious about completing the process of pay justice we’ve fought for. These workers deliver high quality public services, but in a sector now characterised by high staff turnover because of the lack of movement on pay, as staff move on to better pay opportunities elsewhere.</p> <p><br />“This creates uncertainty and delay for service users, which we want to avoid at all costs. For the next government, this is unfinished business. If they are ambitious in their approach to government, this is something they need to resolve quickly so that everyone can move on,” she said.</p> Fórsa official Catherine Keogh said: “While support from these three parties is welcome, it remains to be seen if the next government is serious about completing the process of pay justice we’ve fought for" http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/f8cc4e09116a343ede86231a/sec39.jpg http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/7b06060c75aca755149cb2fe/Catherine%20Keogh.png Assessment of needs agreement reached http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/a193ps1qcj8?rss=true Fórsa has reached an agreement with the HSE on the introduction of an ‘assessment of need protocol,’ which outlines how children’s needs will be assessed under the terms of the Disability Act (2005). 03 Feb 2020 12:00:00 GMT 6b674a7877e7a477c18313ad1b217e91 Articles A Niall Shanahan <p>Fórsa has reached an agreement with the HSE on the introduction of an ‘assessment of need protocol,’ which outlines how children’s needs will be assessed under the terms of the Disability Act (2005).</p> <p>Fórsa has reached an agreement with the HSE on the introduction of an ‘assessment of need protocol,’ which outlines how children’s needs will be assessed under the terms of the Disability Act (2005). It’s designed to guide the assessment of potential service needs for children who have, or may have, a disability.</p> <p><br />The union has been in consultation with the HSE on the new protocol since May 2017. The professional groups involved include assessment officers, dietitians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, social workers and speech and language therapists.</p> <p><br />Fórsa assistant general secretary Catherine Keogh explained: “We had previously expressed professional, practical and capacity concerns following HSE management’s attempt to introduce the needs assessment protocol without consultation with Fórsa, who represent the health professionals who’ll be expected to operate it.”</p> <p><br />A joint working group was established in May 2018 when the union raised concerns about time assessment limits within the policy. Fórsa assistant general secretary Chris Cully explained: “Our concerns were that the time limits within the protocol would not be sufficient to adequately determine the needs of children being assessed.</p> <p><br />“We also had concerns about the additional staff resources required to meet demand within the three-month timeframe laid down by the legislation,” she said.</p> <p><br />Fórsa representatives on the joint working group included union officials and specialist professionals.</p> <p><br />Chris added: “The union is of the view that the new agreement provides Fórsa with the necessary oversight and protections for members in relation to the standard operating procedure. Now that we’ve secured an agreement I’ve advised our members that the union’s instruction of non-cooperation has been lifted. Members should now co-operate with the assessment of need protocol,” she said.</p> <p><br />The agreement also provides for an independently-chaired joint review group, and Fórsa will have three representatives on the group. Chris said the nominees will be decided by Fórsa in consultation with the relevant HSCP professional committees, while the independent chair is Robbie Ryan, who was nominated by Fórsa.</p> <p><br />Read the full text of the agreement <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/najvg85heva" target="_blank" rel="noopener">HERE</a>.</p> Chris Culy: “The union is of the view that the new agreement provides Fórsa with the necessary oversight and protections for members in relation to the standard operating procedure". http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/69d36c96515fb4bdc2543b7d/hse.jpg http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/6ab68eac16580a5b67d6a396/chris%20cully.png Community sector strike date set http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/1qnpfniwm1g?rss=true Fórsa is to ballot members in a number of ‘section 39’ service providers, with a view holding a one-day strike on 21st February. 31 Jan 2020 12:00:00 GMT 5417fc5ed1617a5b01657d9aa15b8231 Articles A Bernard Harbor <p>Fórsa is to ballot members in a number of ‘section 39’ service providers, with a view holding a one-day strike on 21st February.</p> <p>Fórsa is to ballot members in a number of ‘section 39’ service providers, with a view holding a one-day strike on 21st February. Siptu has also agreed to ballot its members.</p> <p> </p> <p>In the latest development in the union’s campaign for pay justice in the sector – made up of organisations that are independent of the HSE but reliant on it for funding - a march and rally is being organised for 14th February.</p> <p> </p> <p>The unions are campaigning for the restoration of pay cuts implemented during the financial crisis. These mirrored cuts in the public service, which has seen a gradual restoration of lost income over the last few years. But section 39 organisations have lagged behind – partly, but not entirely, for want of adequate State funding.</p> <p> </p> <p>The Valentine’s Day rally is being organised with the ICTU community sector committee, which brings together all unions in the sector. It will see community sector workers protest alongside community employment supervisors who have strived for years to have a 2008 Labour Court pensions recommendation implemented.</p> <p> </p> <p>Fórsa official Catherine Keogh said unions also wanted a proper structure for pay bargaining across the sector.</p> <p> </p> <p>“As part of our general election campaign, Fórsa has called on political parties to commit to dealing with section 39 funding and pay as part of the public service pay negotiations, which will get underway later this year. Community sector staff deliver vital health and care services, and their pay and working conditions should be dealt with in the same way as colleagues in the mainstream public service,” she said.</p> Fórsa official Catherine Keogh said unions also wanted a proper structure for pay bargaining across the sector. http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/ce0744562da1ca689806b4a1/section%2039.jpg http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/7b06060c75aca755149cb2fe/Catherine%20Keogh.png Leaders quizzed on women’s equality http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/ifuwr1ffgzl?rss=true The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) recently launched its feminist manifesto for Ireland as part of an effort to make women’s equality a key feature the election. Party leaders were invited to answer four questions, and there were some interesting results. 30 Jan 2020 12:00:00 GMT c155044e176bae74f62a59e0070130bb Articles A Mehak Dugal <p>The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) recently launched its feminist manifesto for Ireland as part of an effort to make women’s equality a key feature the election. Party leaders were invited to answer four questions, and there were some interesting results.</p> <p>The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) recently launched its feminist manifesto for Ireland as part of an effort to make women’s equality a key feature the election. Party leaders were invited to answer four questions, and there were some interesting results.</p> <p><br />Every partly leader thinks of themselves as a feminist, and collectively they outlined achievements for women’s equality including their work to repeal the eighth amendment, extend paternity leave, and hit representation quotas for women candidates in the election.</p> <p><br />But they diverged when asked how they would achieve equality if in power after 8th February.</p> <p><br />Fianna Fáil and the Greens focussed on gender quotas, while Fine Gael and Labour emphasised gender pay legislation and gender pay gap reporting respectively.</p> <p><br />The Social Democrats, Labour and Fianna Fáil all agreed on the need for an improved childcare system, while Sinn Féin focussed solely on the elimination of domestic violence.</p> <p><br />A clear divide on the way to achieve equality also emerged when the parties were asked to commit to a gender-balanced cabinet.</p> <p><br />Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Social Democrats spoke of their absolute commitment to a gender-balanced cabinet, while Labour, Sinn Féin and the Green Party emphasised the importance of electing people who are committed to equality and women’s progression, regardless of their gender.</p> <p><br /><strong>Read the full responses of the party leaders <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/tn5a4gtzbgc/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">HERE</a>.</strong></p> http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/6a25e98b84b6447d4339715a/nwci.gif http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/6a25e98b84b6447d4339715a/nwci.gif Pension age in election spotlight http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/nukby6rr56e?rss=true As the general election campaign entered its second week, most political parties were caught off-guard by the emergence of the pension age as an election issue. Currently the age at which workers can claim the state pension is 66. It’s due to rise to 67 in 2021, and to 68 in 2028. 31 Jan 2020 12:00:00 GMT b0046ce8544e2ca64ef45a95d70a5d88 Articles A Niall Shanahan <p>As the general election campaign entered its second week, most political parties were caught off-guard by the emergence of the pension age as an election issue. Currently the age at which workers can claim the state pension is 66. It’s due to rise to 67 in 2021, and to 68 in 2028. </p> <p>As the general election campaign entered its second week, most political parties were caught off-guard by the emergence of the pension age as an election issue. Currently the age at which workers can claim the state pension is 66. It’s due to rise to 67 in 2021, and to 68 in 2028.</p> <p> </p> <p>This means workers whose contracts oblige them to retire at the previous pension qualification age of 65 are forced to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance for a year. The allowance is worth less than the state pension rate, and it’s conditional on being available for work.</p> <p> </p> <p>Fórsa <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/w4r552bcbtw/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has supported</a> ICTU and Siptu campaigns to halt next year’s planned increase in the eligibility age for the state pension.</p> <p> </p> <p>A brief media storm broke out when it emerged that some public servants – those employed between 1995 and 2012, whose occupational pensions are coordinated with the state pension – have access to a supplementary pension scheme.</p> <p> </p> <p>But there were important inaccuracies in some reports and commentary about the arrangements.</p> <p> </p> <p>The supplementary pension was introduced in 1995 to deal with issues that arose when the Government reformed pension arrangements by coordinating the occupational pension with the state pension for the first time.</p> <p> </p> <p>It was designed to ensure that staff who retired before age 65 – as was an option for many – would get the same benefits under the new administrative regime as under the old arrangement.</p> <p> </p> <p>The supplementary pension is not equal to the state pension – it’s substantially less. This is because it brings payments in line with comparable pre-1995 retirees, not with the current state pension.</p> <p> </p> <p>A number of media outlets reported this as an ‘unfair advantage’ for public service workers. The tone of the coverage briefly descended into a ‘public versus private sector’ discussion, risking unnecessary division among workers and shifting the focus away from the planned increase to the state pension age.</p> <p> </p> <p>Fórsa took steps to put the record straight behind the scenes, providing briefings to journalists and political parties on the precise nature and history of the scheme.</p> <p> </p> <p>Media interest swiftly moved on, while the planned increase in the pension age continued to be a hot election topic. Most political parties have made election pledges either to introduce some form of interim payment for retired workers, or to reverse the plan to increase the pension age.</p> <p> </p> <p>Fórsa said the priority for any new administration must be to act quickly to end the unnecessary and undignified process of forcing retired workers to claim jobseekers allowance in order to bridge the gap between their retirement and qualifying for the state pension, and to abandon plans to further increase the state pension eligibility age.</p> http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/d38c5e966f4937d4b5f21dfc/Pensions.jpg http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/d38c5e966f4937d4b5f21dfc/Pensions.jpg Wild photos to aid homeless http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/15lw6ramewu?rss=true 31 Jan 2020 12:00:00 GMT f20cc069bce54d6a459d6cc22bb35879 Also in this issue Bernard Harbor <p>Fórsa members are invited to a photographic exhibition by Emer O’Shea, which aims to raise funds for central Dublin’s Capuchin day centre for the homeless.</p> <p> </p> <p>Inspired by images of flora and fauna in their natural environment, ‘In the Waters and the Wild’ takes place from 5.30pm on Thursday 13th February at the Richmond education and event centre, which adjoins the INMO headquarters.</p> <p> </p> <p>Emer is an accomplished photographer who previously worked as an IMPACT official in the north west. The event will be introduced by wildlife broadcaster Éanna Ní Lamhna, who’s also vice chair of the Tree Council of Ireland.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>'In the Waters and the Wild’ takes place from 5.30pm until 8.00pm on Thursday 13th February at the Richmond Education and Event Centre, North Brunswick Street, Dublin, D07 TH76.</strong></p> http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/a44ab4b4b576c50826b4ed3b/emer.png http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/a44ab4b4b576c50826b4ed3b/emer.png Childcare costs protest for Dublin http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/340hlzmhaqq?rss=true 03 Feb 2020 12:00:00 GMT f52b27be9bdb8d0ce17de56fbfb6c6af Also in this issue Mehak Dugal <p>Thousands of childcare workers, educators, parents and supporters are set to gather in Dublin on 5th February to protest about high childcare costs and low pay in the sector. The march, organised by the Early Years Alliance, takes place from 11:30 am on Parnell Square, Dublin 1.</p> <p><br />The organisers say over 60% of Ireland’s early years educators earn less than the living wage, despite being qualified.</p> <p><br />Fórsa is supporting the Siptu-organised protest to demand greater Government investment to reduce increased costs to parents, increase pay, and support sustainability for childcare professionals.</p> <p><br />Ireland currently dedicates just 0.2% of GDP to early childhood education and care (ECEC) – just a quarter of the EU average of 0.8%.</p> <p><br />Fórsa is encouraging members who can to participate in the demonstration and show support for childcare professionals. If you can’t be there, you can show support through <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/1i1akg5x56u/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">social media.</a></p> <p> </p> <p>The growing cost of childcare in Ireland is a rampant problem for working people, and childcare professionals still continue to suffer from poor pay and working conditions despite their imperative role in today’s society.</p> <p><br />Fórsa highlighted the issue in its general election campaign by questioning the main parties on whether they would support publicly-provided and publicly-funded affordable childcare for working people.</p> http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/5840b443cd04203a6a9958b3/childcare.jpg http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/5840b443cd04203a6a9958b3/childcare.jpg St Patricks ballot for action http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/3ryrcup63be?rss=true 03 Feb 2020 12:00:00 GMT ad0253f90c0052cf79ec9378adb03010 Also in this issue Mehak Dugal <p>Fórsa members in St Patrick’s hospital have voted for industrial action ballot in response to their employer’s decision to outsource the catering and household services at the mental health unit.</p> <p><br />The union says management also refused to engage on the issue, despite staff saying they were willing to enter talks with the hospital.</p> <p><br />Fórsa represents the management grades in the catering and household departments. Its industrial relations officer David Field says staff are disgusted at the way they’re being treated.</p> <p><br />“Our members have given loyal and dedicated service to the clients, and always go the extra mile to ensure that they receive the best of service from both departments. We are very concerned that senior management has taken a unilateral decision to outsource both the catering and household functions.</p> <p><br />“We have tried all options open to us get management to engage, and staff now feel they’ve been left with no option but to ballot for industrial action.” he said.</p> <p><br />Siptu members in the organisation have also backed industrial action and a joint protest is planned for this Friday.</p> <p><br />The proposed outsourcing is set to take place this month.</p> Fórsa's industrial relations officer David Field said “We have tried all options open to us get management to engage, and staff now feel they’ve been left with no option but to ballot for industrial action" http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/e98f3a89484d9b24b0ca8936/st%20pats.png http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/c1cc805691bab7a6fbd947d7/david.png Info office staff ballot for action http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/5yzbozibtgi?rss=true 04 Feb 2020 12:00:00 GMT eeaa096d48902fa337cb382cdd673fd8 Also in this issue Niall Shanahan <p>Around 200 Fórsa members at the HSE’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) have commenced a ballot for industrial action. The OCIO is the HSE office responsible for the delivery of technology to support and improve healthcare.</p> <p><br />The ballot for action is a response to the lack of progress on reducing the number of agency workers and contractors in the organisation. The union has also raised concerns about management’s failure to adhere to recruitment and promotion processes and the outsourcing of functions previously delivered by HSE staff.</p> <p><br />Fórsa official Ryan McKinney explained: “There has been a lack of serious engagement from management in the industrial relations process while at the same time the numbers of agency staff and reliance on outsourcing continues to increase.</p> <p><br />“We raised our concerns throughout last year, and attempts to schedule meetings with management have been frustrated by that continuing lack of engagement. While we’re keen to resolve this through negotiation, we decided to seek a mandate from our members to take action if it proved necessary,” he said.</p> <p><br />Ballot papers were issued to members in the OCIO at the end of last week and the ballot will close at noon on Friday 14th February.</p> The ballot for action is a response to the lack of progress on reducing the number of agency workers and contractors in the organisation. http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/cbba1bc4b5b3dd9719de25e5/ballot.jpg http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/cbba1bc4b5b3dd9719de25e5/ballot.jpg Single scheme pensioners get 1.3% increase http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/1g5yzkyzwia?rss=true 30 Jan 2020 12:00:00 GMT a678869d8c47dbc89b31843b520e75f4 Also in this issue Bernard Harbor <p>The value of pensions for those who joined the civil and public service after January 2013, and retired in or before 2019, increased by 1.3% from January 2020.</p> <p> </p> <p>The pensioners are members of the ‘single public service pension scheme,’ which was introduced in 2013. Under the scheme, pensions are linked to inflation and rise in line with the consumer price index (CPI).</p> <p> </p> <p>The value of pension and lump sum benefits for those who are in the scheme, but are still working, also rose by 1.3% from January 2020.</p> <p> </p> <p>It’s estimated that over 70,000 public servants are now in the scheme, which calculates pensions on the basis of average earnings over a member’s career.</p> <p> </p> <p>Staff who joined the public service prior to the introduction of the single scheme have their pensions calculated on the basis of earnings at the time of retirement, and their pensions increase with reference to the pay of the grade from which they retired.</p> <p> </p> <p>Read the circular <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/1u9wvz2o8nt/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">HERE</a>.</p> http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/8eed032c819182f25a72b223/pensions-savings-budget-retirement-566264.jpg http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/8eed032c819182f25a72b223/pensions-savings-budget-retirement-566264.jpg Fórsa publishes lobbying records http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/6c5jdppk8zb?rss=true 04 Feb 2020 12:00:00 GMT b3429a8f21be163e5c278b7b55967731 Also in this issue Martina O’Leary <p>Fórsa submitted eight returns to the lobbying register for the most recent reporting period, which expired on 21st January. The union engaged in political lobbying on public service industrial relations, health, the remunicipalisation of waste services, the National Archives, the school secretaries campaign, housing and the shorter working week. </p> <p> </p> <p>Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan led an ICTU public services committee delegation to meet finance minister Pascal Donohoe to discuss public services and industrial relations matters. He also met Fianna Fáil’s leader and deputy leader on public service matters.</p> <p> </p> <p>As a body engaged in political lobbying, Fórsa is required to publish lobbying returns</p> <p> </p> <p>See also: Fórsa trade union profile page on <a href="http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/designtest/u62rmshm3bf/external" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Lobbying.ie.</a></p> http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/9baa10a25e36db06612cfe66/lobbying_2.png http://forsatradeunion.newsweaver.com/files/1/63805/194505/6286247/9baa10a25e36db06612cfe66/lobbying_2.png