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Fórsa report champions productive power of bargaining
by Niall Shanahan

Fórsa launched a new report on Monday (31st May) urging the Government to “harness the productive power of sectoral bargaining” which it says will improve wage levels and pay equality. The report explores how robust collective bargaining arrangements in other open economies are credited with strong consumer demand, economic stability, industrial peace, flexibility and innovation.

Community health staffing should be fast-tracked
by Bernard Harbor

Fórsa has called on the HSE to fast-track plans to recruit 7,000 community-based health staff over the next three years. The commitment was set out in the Government’s Sláintecare Strategic Action Plan 2021-23, which was published in May. Fórsa’s head of Health, Éamonn Donnelly, said health and social care professionals (HSCPs) are concerned that no timeline has been put on recruitment targets in the action plan’s list of ‘key projects and deliverables.’

Fórsa warns of voluntary sector ‘collapse’
by Niall Shanahan

Fórsa has warned that the wide range of specialist health services delivered by the community and voluntary sector, including disability, addiction and care services for older people, is at a real risk of collapse. Fórsa official Catherine Keogh told the union’s Health and Welfare divisional conference last week that a new funding model is necessary if the sector is to survive.

Children’s disability services need resource boost
by Niall Shanahan

Fórsa has called on the Government to radically improve the level of resources to children’s disability services in order that the newly reconfigured services network is properly funded.

Fórsa has called on the Government to radically improve the level of resources to children’s disability services in order that the newly reconfigured services network is properly funded.


A reorganisation of services is already underway, as the new model of service delivery - known as “Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People” - is being aligned with the HSE’s Community Health Networks.


Fórsa assistant general secretary Chris Cully said the union welcomed the reconfiguration of services on the basis that it would standardise equity of access and put children accessing the services at the centre of service planning.


However, she said that the services, provided largely by voluntary organisations under the ‘Section 39’ funding model, would need more resources in order to achieve the objectives of the new networks: “For far too long, families of children with disabilities and complex needs have had to fight for equity of access to services and therapeutic interventions.


“Disability services have been developed, organised and delivered mostly on a non-statutory footing by voluntary organisations who receive funding from the HSE under section 39 of the Health Act.


“This means that while there are excellent services being provided in some areas, others receive no services at all. The new model of service delivery aims to achieve a unified approach nationally, delivering vital disability services to every child who needs them.


“But this aim will not be met unless the State can show it values these agencies, and provide the necessary resources for them to deliver their invaluable services,” she said.


Same job, different terms

Ms Cully said health and social care professionals working for these agencies are often employed on lesser terms and conditions of employment than those directly employed by the HSE “despite the fact that they are doing exactly the same job.” She warned that agencies would struggle to recruit and retain staff, and struggle to deliver vital disability services, unless resources are adequate.


She added, “The average waiting time for children to have an assessment of need presently is just over 17 months. This is far in excess of their statutory right to an assessment of no more than six months. This illustrates where the gap in resources exists, and must be addressed if the new service model is to be successful.


“An additional 100 posts have been approved for this year 2021. But that’s only a drop in the ocean of what is needed. Look at it this way, there are 91 children’s disability networks. With 100 additional posts approved, that’s essentially one additional post per network. It’s not nearly enough,” she said.


It’s never been more important – or easier – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact us HERE.

Praise for health service admin and support staff
by Bernard Harbor

The chair of Fórsa’s Health and Welfare Division praised the contribution of health service managers, administrators, IT and support staff during the Covid crisis and the recent cyber-attack on the HSE. Speaking at the union’s biennial Health & Welfare Divisional Conference last week, Don Gibney said the pandemic had “brought out the best in our society.”

Unions respond to National Economic Plan
by Niall Shanahan

Unions have been responding to the Government’s National Resilience and Recovery Plan, which was unveiled on Tuesday (1st June).

Unions have been responding to the Government’s National Resilience and Recovery Plan, which was unveiled on Tuesday (1st June).


The plan, which is valued at up to €5bn when taxation measures are included, makes provision for the Emergency Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) to be extended, unchanged, until the end of September, and is to continue at another rate, as yet unconfirmed, until the end of the year.


More than 50,000 training scheme places, on digital and green job programmes, are also to be created under the plan, while plans to phase out the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) were also announced.


Congress general secretary Patricia King said: “The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) has proved integral to maintaining workers’ income and, hence, consumer demand and social solidarity throughout the public health emergency. When and how the PUP is withdrawn must be based on concrete evidence and not on baseless claims from a handful of employers that workers do not want to return to their jobs.”


Patricia added that the Government’s own target of 100,000 workers going back to work in May has been reached and the vacancy rate is on a per capita footing with the UK and US, where no PUP equivalent payment exists.


Speaking ahead of the publication of the plan on Tuesday, Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan emphasised the need for investment in public services, particularly in light of how valuable all public services had become during the pandemic.


Kevin said it was also essential to avoid a ‘cliff edge’ in Covid supports for workers and businesses, and emphasised the need for specific measures in sectors like aviation, where recovery is expected to take much longer.


He further emphasised Congress’s call that direct government grants to businesses, in the order of billions of Euros, must be conditional on a commitment by them to decent work and to retaining their workforce: “Fórsa repeatedly made the call for this type of conditionality to apply in the aviation industry, yet some aviation employers availed of state cash while making plans to slash their workforce, as we recently saw occur at Shannon Airport,” he said.


Patricia noted that the Government further suspended workers redundancy rights, “On the same day they are telling workers their income supports are being withdrawn is grossly anomalous and deeply unfair.


“If employers are unwilling to maintain the link with their workers through the wage subsidy scheme, they equally cannot be allowed to continue to have the protection of the freeze on redundancy rights,” she said.


Congress is calling for radical reform of the social safety net in the form of a shift away from flat-rated income supports to pay-related benefits and comprehensive universal public services, in line with EU standards.


It’s never been more important – or easier – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact us HERE.

Feature Article
At the Heart of Health and Welfare
by Niall Shanahan

A new campaign to illustrate the role of Fórsa’s 30,000-strong membership in health and welfare services was launched in May. Comprising a comprehensive visual guide to Fórsa’s health and welfare membership, and a series of briefings for political representatives, At the Heart of Health and Welfare is designed to engage and inform policy makers about the role of Fórsa members in health and welfare service delivery.

A new campaign to illustrate the role of Fórsa’s 30,000-strong membership in health and welfare services was launched in May. Comprising a comprehensive visual guide to Fórsa’s health and welfare membership, and a series of briefings for political representatives, At the Heart of Health and Welfare is designed to engage and inform policy makers about the role of Fórsa members in health and welfare service delivery.


The union’s head of Health and Welfare Éamonn Donnelly explained: “For most observers, health services are primarily delivered by doctors and nurses, and that’s just part of how the system is viewed. There is a very complex story behind that, and that’s the story this campaign aims to tell.”


Éamonn said it’s appropriate that the Irish health system is subject to a great deal of public scrutiny and public discourse: “Equally, when policy makers, public representatives and other commentators engage in a debate about our health services, we want them to be able to see the full picture.


“We consider one of the many strengths of Fórsa that our members are central to the delivery the full array of health and welfare services in Ireland, and we wanted to ensure that policy makers can better understand the complexity and diversity of their roles in those services,” he said.


The four main areas where Fórsa represents members in health and welfare; hospitals, residential and social, community health and corporate services, are each represented as sections of the ‘heart’, and clicking on each section reveals the grades represented by the union in each, in addition to an outline on the role of support staff.


A series of related political briefings, organised by Fórsa lead organiser Kevin Donoghue, have taken place in recent months, and the visual component of the new campaign was officially launched at two webinar briefings on 21st May. Kevin explained: “We hosted two separate briefings for political representatives with health portfolios and those covering social care, disabilities and children’s services, and invited representatives to respond to the campaign.”


Kevin added that plans to livestream the briefings had to be changed following the recent cyberattack on the HSE systems. However, both sessions are now available to view HERE and HERE.


Political representatives were also invited to respond to the campaign, and to send a greeting to delegates ahead of last week’s Health and Welfare divisional conference. You can view their messages HERE or in the embedded video blow. For more details visit the campaign website.



It’s never been more important – or easier – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact us HERE.

Also in this issue
Campaign series starts this month
by Róisín McKane

Fórsa’s campaigning summer series kicks off later this month with a collection of member training events, and public webinars.


The campaigning summer school has been an integral event in the union calendar since June 2017. In light of the current Covid-19 restrictions, the 2021 school is being delivered online from Monday 21st June to Saturday 26th June.


The member training sessions will delve into the world of campaigning, while the public webinars will explore the future of work, campaigning in hostile environments, and the role of the State in a post-Covid world.


Speakers will include TASC director Dr Shana Coen, barrister-at-law Ann Christine Fitzgerald, ICTU social policy officer Dr Laura Bambrick, and Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan, amongst others.


Each moderated session will feature a panel discussion followed by questions moderated through the video-conference chat box.


Registration for member training is open until Wednesday 16th June at noon, and can be accessed HERE. There are a limited number of spaces available so please register early.


Applications will be taken on a first come, first served basis.


Registration for the public webinars can be accessed HERE and will remain open until midnight on Friday 18th June.


Find out more about the programme and speakers HERE.


For further enquiries please contact


It’s never been more important – or easier – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact us HERE.

Fórsa joins Justice for Colombia action
by Niall Shanahan

Fórsa will be one of a number of trade unions taking part in today’s online action (Thursday 3rd June) in support of human rights in Colombia, organised by the Justice for Colombia (JFC) campaign.


Colombia has seen nationwide trade union-led mobilisations in support of economic justice, human rights and peace since April, and has been met with extensive human rights abuses by Iván Duque’s government as it attempts to crush the protests.


To date, police have killed at least 43 protesters, while they have also committed sexual violence, forced disappearances and torture against detainees.


Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan, and deputy general secretary Eoin Ronayne have both joined previous delegations to Colombia to see first-hand the challenges facing trade unionists there. They met online this week with the Irish ambassador in Bogota, Alison Milton.


Kevin commented: “I impressed upon the ambassador our serious concerns about the abuses of civil and human rights that have been taking place since the commencement of the strike in April.


“I also met with the Colombian ambassador to Ireland last week and said that we remain extremely concerned about how the right to associate, and the right to strike was being disregarded.


“This failure, and the abuses and violence on the part of sections of the state forces, are bringing the idea of Colombia as a democratic state into question,” he said.


Following the meeting Kevin called upon Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney TD, to make stronger statements condemning current civil and human rights abuses in Colombia.


Follow the online action on Fórsa’s Twitter page HERE.


It’s never been more important – or easier – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact us HERE.

Youth worker concerns over Covid impact on young people
by Mehak Dugal

Four in five youth workers believe that the impact of Covid-19 will be long-term and will have a profound impact on young people and society. That’s according to the latest research published by the Irish Youth Foundation (IYF).


The report surveyed the country’s most at-risk children and young people, as well as over 300 youth workers across the Island.


As society begins to reopen youth unemployment is at an all-time high, with 59% of young people aged 15-24 currently unemployed. Youth workers believe that it will be even more difficult to get vulnerable young people back into work, with a significant decrease in employment opportunities.


The survey also revealed that we are currently facing a mental health crisis as a direct result of Covid-19, and that this will have lasting effects “if we fail to make immediate interventions.” A loss of morale and long-term aspirations has been identified by 70% of youth workers while 73% felt there was a lack of resources to support young people at risk of early school leaving.


Almost 90% of youth workers cited long-term mental health challenges as a key issue for the young people they support, while over 60% of workers say that loss of social skills or re-integrating back into normal society will be a long-term issue.


It also notes challenges associated with a lack of space. Youth workers noted that overcrowding and a lack of safe spaces amplified mental health issues for a number of young people around the country, and recommend the creation of safe spaces as a key solution in re-engaging and rebuilding young people.


Lucy Masterson, CEO of the IYF, commented: “As Ireland haltingly emerges from the pandemic, we predict that our most marginalised children are likely to be forgotten. Our findings prove that while we have been in the same storm, we most certainly have not been in the same boat. This is a stark warning to Ireland that a generation’s future is on the line.”


The survey found that young people are angry with the lack of engagement with their schools, feeling the system has let them down, and a high rate of dropping out from school is anticipated.


Youth workers play a crucial role in the lives of some 500,000 children and young people in Ireland each year. Of the 41,400 youth workers in Ireland, 40,000 are volunteers.


Lack of decent work


Meanwhile, new research published this week by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has found that Ireland’s young workers were six times more likely to be on temporary contracts than those aged over 25. It also sets out how people with disabilities, Travellers and East European migrants are at much higher risk of disadvantage around employment, and have less access to what the International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines as decent work.


The full report including the survey results by the Irish Youth Foundation can be accessed HERE.


The main findings of the IHREC/ESRI report can be viewed HERE.


It’s never been more important – or easier – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact us HERE.

Inclusivity brings benefits in the workplace
by Mehak Dugal

Over 80% of employers believe that hiring people with disabilities is of benefit to the organisation according to latest research published by AHEAD, an organisation working to create inclusive environments in education and employment for people with disabilities.


However, the research says less than 55% of employers offer opportunities for disclosure during the recruitment process.


The research surveyed more than 250 private sector companies with more than 20 employees and was conducted by Behaviours & Attitudes on behalf of AHEAD.

The findings were launched at a webinar on Wednesday (2nd June) as part of AHEAD’s WAM (Willing Able Mentoring) programme, which is a work placement programme to promote access to the labour market for graduates with disabilities. It has provided over 500 placements for graduates with disabilities so far. 
Speaking at the launch of the findings, CEO of AHEAD, Dara Ryder said it was reassuring to see that 76% of companies surveyed had a diversity and inclusion strategy.  Among those, 79% per cent specifically referenced employees with disabilities.


Mr. Ryder said while these results were welcome, it was notable that only 37% of those same companies had targeted recruitment aimed at people with disabilities. And only 24% offered a specific employee resource group for people with disabilities.


Although there has been an increase in disability awareness training over the years, the research highlighted the prejudice on employers’ part to instinctively think of someone with a physical disability when they hear the term ‘disability’. And it reiterated that the vast majority of people with disabilities actually have hidden disabilities, like mental health difficulties, autism and learning difficulties like Dyslexia.
It also found that two thirds (67 per cent) of larger companies in Ireland were aware of having staff with a disability but given that one in eight new entrant third-level students self-identified as having a disability, there existed a significant gap in the companies’ awareness. 


On the subject of disclosure, almost 90% of employers believed graduates with disabilities should disclose it prior to the job offer, while some 45% stated it was a breach of trust if they do not disclose their disability to their employer.


AHEAD said it was concerning that so many employers considered non-disclosure a breach of trust, while not providing ample opportunities for disclosure during the recruitment process. 


It also called on the Department of Social Protection to embark on an awareness campaign to ensure that employers are aware of the ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ Fund.

Fórsa national secretary Andy Pike said the report’s findings demonstrated a need for the transformation of the attitudes and perceptions of employers towards those with disabilities entering the workforce. 


“We welcome the report’s authors highlighting the important work to be done in expanding employers’ understandings of the breadth of disabilities their employees or prospective employees have and raising awareness on what supports organisations such as AHEAD can offer.


“Significant barriers still remain in the recruitment process after graduation for people with disabilities,” said Andy and he echoed AHEAD’s concerns that sufficient positive opportunities for disclosure are not readily made available at the recruitment stage by organisations.


Andy said Fórsa has a particular interest in seeking equality in all aspects and added that the recent introduction of impact assessments was a central part of Fórsa’s wider equality policy.

“Ireland has one of the lowest employment rates for people with disabilities and has one of the highest gaps between people with and without disabilities in employment. This needs to be changed for the better.”
AHEAD offers a range of resources for employers as well as support with awareness training and the targeted recruitment of people with disabilities.


For more information on AHEAD and WAM, visit the website here.


It’s never been more important – or easier – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact us HERE.

Join Fórsa online



Workers who wish to join Fórsa can to do so using a new ‘join online’ function on the union’s website.


Going live with the new system follows several months of research, preparation and testing aimed at making it easier than ever to join the union. It also goes live as the union continues to process a large number of new membership applications, as interest in joining the union has surged since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis.


Fórsa’s general secretary Kevin Callinan commented: “The current crisis has created the necessity to be able to carry out our business in different ways. Work on this project had commenced before the Covid-19 crisis took hold, and its completion marks a vital step as we tackle the challenges of living in changed times.


“We can see that more people want to join a union in response to what’s happening in the wider economy. It’s vital that they can take those initial steps quickly and easily, and making the membership application process more accessible is part of that process.


“This is a crucial new venture to enable Fórsa to substantially increase our membership - and to strengthen the union’s hand - at a critical time in the union’s development,” he said.


The online facility is a streamlined and simplified membership application process, and will be the quickest and easiest way to join the union. All incoming applications will continue to be subject to check-off and approval by Fórsa branches and the national executive committee, while the new online system is designed to ease the administrative burden on branches.


You can join Fórsa online at


Fórsa: Here to support you



Fórsa is here to protect you if you have problems arising from the coronavirus or other workplace issues. The best way to contact the union at this time is HERE.


We will deal with queries as quickly as we can but, needless to say, the union will prioritise cases where members’ jobs and incomes are at immediate risk – as well as any serious health and safety issues that may arise.


Fórsa has cancelled all face-to-face meetings for the time being. The union is redeploying its staff to prioritise engagement with management on proposals arising from the Covid-19 public health crisis, and to provide rapid and efficient responses to members’ queries and concerns.


Fórsa's main phone line (01 817 1500) is now open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Alternatively members can use the Contact Us page on the Fórsa website to submit queries directly to the relevant division within Fórsa and this remains the most efficient way to access advice directly.


Wherever possible, Fórsa staff have been equipped to work remotely. Therefore, members should not attend Fórsa offices at this time. If you have a query or concern, the best way to raise it is to contact the union HERE.