Wednesday, 29 July 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I thank the Cathaoirleach and the Acting Leader. I would like to raise an issue that has been debated in both Houses in previous times. I refer to the 1,700 independent, not-for-profit, section 39 organisations. In particular, I am speaking of St. Christopher's Services in Longford. These organisations provide vital services for thousands of people throughout Ireland with various disabilities. These services are not focused on making profits like the private sector but rather on improving and sustaining our communities and society in general by building relationships with the service users, their families and their friends. These workers took cuts when we bailed out the banks earlier this decade and have been waiting ever since to have their incomes restored to parity with their work colleagues in section 38 organisations and indeed in the HSE. At present, St. Christopher's Services are losing staff to the HSE and finding it very difficult to recruit staff for these positions due to the pay difference.
I wish to quote from one of a number of emails I have received in the last number of weeks from staff members:
The vulnerable adults which we support are greatly affected by the changes in staff teams. Workload and responsibilities on the staff are increasing especially during Covid. Staff are at breaking point. We are deemed as frontline staff yet we are treated as second-class citizens. I am on half the pay of my counterparts in the HSE. It is simply not good enough.
I agree that it is simply not good enough. I ask the Acting Leader to ensure the Minister for Health addresses these issues after the recess and prior to the budget. The Minister should take the necessary steps to provide for full pay restoration to the St. Christopher’s staff and the other section 39 workers who care for those who are so dear to each and every one of us.