16 Aug 2022

Community workers strike over pay outside Social Protection offices

Community workers strike over pay outside Social Protection offices

Protesters gathered outside Department of Social Protection offices in Dublin and Waterford to call for an increase in pay for care and community workers for the first time in more than 10 years.

A third protest was held in Eyre Square in Galway city, as part of a 24-hour work stoppage.

The Siptu industrial action was held from noon on Wednesday and represents the second day of strike action in a long-running dispute over pay.

On Tuesday, a one-day stoppage by Irish Wheelchair Association workers across the country was held as part of a Valuing Community campaign backed by Siptu, Forsa, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Siptu said the Government has claimed it does not have a role to play in resolving the dispute, as it does not directly employ these workers, which “is untenable and stands in stark contrast” to how community workers’ pay was linked to public sector workers before 2008.

Bernie Donnelly, a community employment supervisor in Finglas, Dublin, who runs a meals-on-wheels programme, told the PA news agency that the last pay increase she received was in 2008.

“Through it all we have seen the participants every year receive their social welfare payment increase, which would average at around five euro each year and we have received nothing.

“So in that time we have lost, you could say the equivalent of 75 euro.

“I would say to the Government for a start – these community employment programmes, people working in the community, are saving the Government a fortune.

“We save the HSE thousands upon thousands of euro every year providing meals services in the community.

“If they had to pay the going rate for that, it would cost them a hell of a lot more than is being handed out now. So what we want to see is fairness.

“We want to be paid for the job that we’re doing. We want to get the recognition for the job that we’re doing. And we really ask no more than that.”

Siptu public administration and community division organiser Adrian Kane said “our members employed by the Irish Wheelchair Association held a one-day work stoppage”.

“This was very successful in highlighting the demand for pay justice for care and community sector workers.

“On pickets across the country, our members were overwhelmed by the strong support shown by the public for the strike, with many welcoming the fact the workers were standing up for pay justice in the midst of the worsening cost-of-living crisis.”

He said that workers’ demands were simple: “For the Government to engage with these workers and their union representatives to discuss funding so they can have their first pay rise in 14 years.”

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