IMPACT trade union is to hold industrial action ballots in any community and voluntary sector workplace where an attempt is made to unilaterally cut their pay and conditions.
The public sector union has made the threat on behalf of hundreds of its members in organisations such as disability charity Enable Ireland and children’s charity Barnardos.
The Health Service Executive-funded agencies should have been exempted from the public service pay cuts because, as Tánaiste Mary Coughlan pointed out, the grant-aided agencies funded under section 39 of the Health Act 2004 are not directly affected by pay adjustments provided for under the financial emergency measures. Therefore, as they are not public service bodies as defined in that act, their employees are not public servants.
Nonetheless, leaked correspondence from the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health, published by the Irish Examiner over recent weeks, have shown that the health bodies intend to cut the budgets of the applicable agencies by the value of the public service budget cuts. They have also stipulated the savings should not affect services meaning the employers will have to take the value from their staff pay.
IMPACT said claims by the Tánaiste that a letter sent out by the HSE to its funded agencies was sent in error were proving to be inaccurate.
“We can only conclude that these discrepancies expose the fact that the original letter ordering cuts was not sent in error,” said a union spokesman. “Rather, it was sent as a result of a very specific instruction by the Department of Health and Children to make reductions commensurate with the reduction in public sector pay, contrary to the decision taken in Dáil Éireann less than a month earlier.
“The employers are effectively being coerced to impose a pay cut outside the parameters of the budget legislation; there is a risk also that in following the instruction directly, many employers would be in breach of the payment of wages act, perhaps without even realising.
“Where agreement isn’t reached with an employer, IMPACT will be balloting members in the sector shortly, in order to protect workers from any unilateral imposition of these cuts by stealth.
“Meanwhile, the union will continue to work with employers in the sector to ensure as much as possible that employees incomes are protected, that jobs are protected and that the vital services provided by Enable Ireland, Barnardos and other organisations in the community and voluntary sector are maintained.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved