Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure & Reform Dara Calleary has called on the government to take its head out of the sand and restore the pay of people working in Section 39 organisations.

These workers provide vital health services to local communities throughout the country, and include hospices, disability organisations and other agencies.

Almost 7,000 workers, who are members of SIPTU, have now voted in favour of strike action because of the government’s failure to restore their pay.

Deputy Calleary commented, “The government’s continued refusal to acknowledge the important work that Section 39 staff undertake on a daily basis is now forcing them onto the picket line, in a move that neither the workers nor the people that they care for want to see happening.

“It’s a deeply unfair situation, which is having a demoralising impact on people who go above and beyond their duties every day.  Fianna Fáil has been calling for the restoration of Section 39 workers’ pay for some time and brought forward a Dáil debate on the issue earlier this month.

“These workers saw their pay dramatically reduced as part of the wider public sector pay cuts which were implemented by the last government.  However, their colleagues in the public sector are now seeing their pay levels restored but the Section 39 workers have been given no indication as to when they can expect their salaries to be reinstated.  There has traditionally been a link between the two groups and it seems deeply unfair that the public sector workers would have their pay restored, while the Section 39 staff are not.

“Ministers Harris and Donohoe cannot continue to ignore this pressing issue.  The strike is scheduled for February 14th, giving them almost two weeks to come up with a roadmap to restore pay levels for this cohort of healthcare workers”.