Time running out for disability staff

Wednesday 21st December 2011

Eight workers employed by the People With Disabilities Ireland (PWDI) are facing redundancy at the end of December as the agency’s funding has been terminated by the Department of Justice, Equality and Defence.

The department announced the decision in November and staff were immediately put on notice. IMPACT represents most of them and the union is continuing to make efforts to meet with disability minister Kathleen Lynch to discuss the situation facing the workers.

IMPACT official Christine Cully explained: “The organisation is run by people with disabilities, their families and carers, and provides a range of services to people throughout the country. The termination of funding has come as a blow to people with disabilities, for whom the organisation provided a vital advocacy role, and to this small group of dedicated staff who are facing into a very bleak situation come the end of the month.”

Chris added: “It is in the interests of everyone with disabilities in Ireland that their voice remains heard and ensure that these workers, who have shown determination and commitment in their work with PWDI, are not sacrificed in an arbitrary cost cutting exercise.”

Chris explained that IMPACT wrote to the minister on 6th December seeking a meeting to discuss the imminent redundancies. Although an acknowledgement was received, there has been no further contact with the Minister’s office since. Time is now running out for the eight workers, based in Dublin, Kerry, Cork and Clare, whose employment is set to conclude on 31st December.

PWDI has said that the move will have a detrimental effect on the lives of thousands of people with disabilities, and that the department’s decision shows a complete disregard for the voluntary work of hundreds of members. PWDI has also said that the withdrawal of its annual funding would set back the disability agenda by 15 years.

Defending the decision to terminate the agency’s funding, minister Lynch rejected the claims and stated that most of the funding was spent on administration and the running of the PWDI head office.

IMPACT said that if administration costs were the issue, that these could be discussed. “Elsewhere across the public service we have been able to effect huge cost reductions. If administration costs are the issue it makes far more sense to discuss these in the context of how other agencies have reduced their spend, than to simply cut off an organisation and force its staff to face redundancy,” said Chris.