Homecare, disability, and addiction services are among organisations “facing collapse” because they cannot recruit staff, a charity conference has heard.
State-funded charities are paying workers 10% less than their similarly qualified colleagues in the public sector due to pay cuts made during the financial crisis that have never been reversed, with the issue due to be examined at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on June 12.
Industrial relations organisations, including Fórsa and Siptu, will take part in showdown talks with the Governmentwith a goal of earning a pay hike for thousands of workers of between 15% and 20%.
Workers at so-called section 39, 56, and 10 organisations — including Enable Ireland and Coolmine, and many housing, homelessness, meantal health, and drug support services — did not have their pay restored after cuts made during the economic crash. In the current cost-of-living crisis, this is making the sector increasingly untenable, speakers at the national charities’ association annual summit in Dublin said yesterday.
‘Enforced pay disparities’
Ivan Cooper, the new chief executive of The Wheel, which represents more than 2,200 charities in Ireland, said that “enforced pay disparities” of 10% between the community sector and those performing the same function with the likes of the HSE mean charities simply cannot recruit and retain staff.
He said he hopes the summit will “bring the sector together and get the strength in numbers” to force the State to act.
“Since 2008, public servants have seen significant salary increases, so their pay has risen by between 10% and 20% over that timeframe,” Mr Cooper said.
So the static salaries of the voluntary sector which haven’t increased are falling back further and further behind
John Gallagher, a public affairs adviser to The Wheel, said: “It is insane to expect that someone with a qualification in childcare, medical care, or whatever will get 10% or 12% less than they would if they were doing the exact same job for a State agency.”
Mr Gallagher said the problems will “inevitably manifest themselves in human suffering”.
“Already some charities are just not tendering for contracts because they don’t have the staff to provide the service,” Mr Gallagher said.
“I think there’s a political decision to be made by Government now, that it’s more important to look after people in need of homecare or disability care now, than to say we might have some crisis if someone’s multinational company pulls out in five or ten years time. I think now is more important than 10 years from now,” he said.
“There are over 6,000 people approved for homecare at present that can’t get it,” he said.
“The key issue is resources and services and staffing to provide that service. If you’re not paying enough money to recruit staff then obviously there are 6,000 people in dire need of homecare services who are not getting it.”
Mr Gallagher said there are “a lot of small drug services running around the country that are physically on a knife edge at present”.
‘Services remain underfunded’
Gordon Burke is 57 and living in Galway City where he is the branch campaign officer for Galway Fórsa. He has worked in social care fo