Fórsa has sought an urgent meeting with health minister Stephen Donnelly after his officials flatly rejected a union request for arbitration over pay restoration for staff in ‘section 39’ agencies. Along with other unions in the sector, Fórsa also wants to discuss its demand that unions be included in an official dialogue forum for voluntary agencies.
In a letter to the minister, Liam Berney of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said it was shameful that pay restoration for community and voluntary sector staff still hasn’t been resolved after four years of talks. ICTU is coordinating the multi-union campaign.
An agreement on pay restoration in 50 large section 39 agencies was reached in 2019, and a Workplace Relations Commission-brokered process led to a breakthrough for staff in a further 250 agencies last December.
Fórsa and other unions now want to ensure that staff in all 300 agencies are treated equally, which requires some retrospective payments for those in the second tranche of 250 agencies. But the employer side has refused to engage on this, after earlier agreeing to address it in the second quarter of this year.
Frustration is also growing at the Government’s refusal to expand the voluntary body dialogue forum to include union representatives.
Unions say this is inconsistent with programme for government commitments to wider social dialogue. They also argue that the forum could contribute to the resolution of long-term structural issues in the sector.
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