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Charities criticise ‘chaotic’ awarding of staff pay deal

Charities have warned that vital services are under threat because a pay deal awarded to staff last year is being allocated in a ‘chaotic’ way by the Government.

The pay agreement was reached in October 2023, hours before strike action was due to commence involving 5,000 workers across 17 voluntary and community sector organisations.

The deal was to benefit workers in Section 39, Section 56 and Section 10 organisations.

These are privately run organisations and charities that are contracted by the Government to provide services to the State in the areas of health, children’s services and homeless services.

The agreement included an offer from the Government of an 8% increase in funding for wages.

Workers represented by Fórsa, the INMO and SIPTU voted to accept the deal.

Charity representative body The Wheel has warned that staff in some organisations are still waiting for their pay increase, six months after the agreement was reached.

The group said the payment delays are causing a crisis in the charity sector.

“The chaos risks service delivery to tens of thousands of vulnerable people and families in the areas of disability, children, older people, families, homeless and addiction,” said Colette Bennett, Director of Research and Advocacy at The Wheel.

“It is unacceptable that charity sector staff in Section 39, 56 and 10 organisations, delivering health and social services are waiting over six months for a promised increase of 8% under last year’s Workplace Relations Commission agreement, while the just agreed new public sector pay deal will be paid out within weeks,” Ms Bennett said.

The Wheel said that back payments to some charities are far below what is required to implement the pay agreement and that payments have yet to be made to many smaller organisations.

The Wheel said a further meeting of the Workplace Relations Commission on pay has been missed

The group said that different approaches and timelines are being implemented by the Departments of Health and Children, the HSE, Tusla and local authorities.

It also said that the deadline of 1 December 2023 for a further meeting of the Workplace Relations Commission on pay has been missed, with no indication when another date might be set.

The Wheel has called for a centralised, cross-departmental approach, under the auspices of the Department of the Taoiseach, to oversee the awarding of the pay agreement.

The Health Service Executive said it understands the frustration of staff employed in these organisations and is seeking to progress the process as quickly as possible.

“The HSE is assessing the funding requirements of organisations based on the level of services provided to the HSE,” a spokesperson said.

“The HSE is working through eligibility issues as they arise and is dealing directly with the Section 39 organisations on a case-by-case basis.”

The HSE said that as of 2 April, 1,130 Section 39 organisations had received a pre-formatted template for completion and return.

“A total of 158 organisations have now submitted their templates for validation,” the HSE said.

“It is expected that payments will issue in the week commencing 8 April to the organisations who have completed the validation process,” it added.

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