IMPACT’s divisional executive committee have called for a forum to be created which will address privatisation, pay structures and job security in the community sector.
Members of the health and welfare division of IMPACT have gathered in Treacys West County Hotel in Limerick from Wednesday 6th May – Friday 8th May.
Ashley Connolly, assistant general secretary with IMPACT represents members in the community sector. She said “we need the establishment of a forum of engagement with the appropriate Directorate of the HSE and the Department of Children & Families and IMPACT to address the real risk of privatization, the need for national pay structures as well as addressing the vulnerability of job security.
“Since the onset of the recession the Community & Voluntary Sector has suffered significant funding cuts and haemorrhaged jobs. There were indiscriminate funding cuts which compromised the delivery of frontline services. Our members in this sector have made many sacrifices to keep things going, including shorter working weeks, significant salary reductions as well as job losses. But they always remained focused on service user’s needs” she said.
“Pay talks are to take place in the public sector next week, pay increases have been taking place in the private sector, but in the community and voluntary sector any extra income is going straight into the provision of services due to demand continuing to increase. Staff in this sector have gone through enough, they need a commitment to pay restoration as the economy improves to ensure they don’t get left behind.
Michelle Grehen, from the boards and voluntary agencies branch said “I have been working in the domestic violence area in the community sector for twelve years, along with my colleagues in the homeless, drugs and youth services. In that time we’ve seen a major increase in the demand for our services. This has put pressure on staff who are striving to deliver a service and battling consistent cuts along with increment freezes.
“We lost a number of staff through both voluntary and compulsory redundancy, and were not able to replace this staff which has put further pressure on an overstretched staff body. We don’t have the same protection as our colleagues in the public service, this leaves us vulnerable, and unsure of our future.
“There is a theme of exhaustion amongst employees where they feel jaded from the constant battling with employers for terms and conditions of employment to be respected. The boards and voluntary agencies branch represent a vast amount of agencies which individually provide unique services to the most vulnerable of our communities and employees continue to strive with the client at the centre of their agenda which the employer can sometimes use to their advantage in negotiating pay and conditions.
“Public sector pay talks will take place next week, and we ask that the community and voluntary sector is not overlooked or forgotten in the pay restoration debate” she said.