Workers in the care, community and voluntary sector will escalate their campaign of industrial action to secure a first pay rise in 14 years after the Government failed to engage with their unions following strikes in selected workplaces earlier this month. SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “Most care and community sector workers have not had a pay rise in 14 years. They are struggling to make ends meet in the face of a worsening cost of living crisis while also seeking to maintain services for some of our most vulnerable citizens.  “Earlier this month limited industrial action was taken by workers in the Irish Wheelchair Association and selected community organisations. Unfortunately, the Government, which controls the funding of these organisations and so has ultimate control over whether the wages of workers can be increased, has failed to positively respond to their demand for pay justice.”  He added: “As a result the ICTU Valuing Care, Valuing Community campaign committee met and decided it will now ballot members across the sector for an intensified campaign of industrial action commencing during September and spreading country wide thereafter.” The head of Fórsa’s Health and Welfare division, Ashley Connolly said: “Government is failing to grasp the link between its chronic underfunding of the services we’re talking about and the failure to meet the HSE’s recruitment targets in, for example, disability services.  “The outgoing head of the HSE has acknowledged they’re having problems meeting targets for disability services nationally, including unfilled roles in 18 organisations funded by the State. This has led to service delivery issues and growing waiting lists.  “The HSE leans heavily on the community and voluntary sector to deliver these services. These are the same organisation struggling to attract enough qualified and experienced staff in a very tight labour market. Why? Because they can get better paid work elsewhere. Fórsa has already established there’s an annual staff turnover of around 30% in this sector, which drives up HR and related recruitment costs. She added: “The failure to fund the services adequately has led directly to shortfalls in services and growing waiting lists.” The Valuing Care, Valuing Community campaign is supported by the ICTU, SIPTU, Fórsa and the INMO.