SIPTU Sector Organiser, Eddie Mullins, said: “SIPTU and Fórsa wrote to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, in October calling on him to convene a meeting of the Community Sector High Level Forum to discuss issues of importance within the sector including funding, pensions and policy.

“The letter highlighted the factually incorrect response he made to a question from Bríd Smith TD concerning the cost of honouring a Labour Court recommendation on the right of community employment scheme supervisors to a pension.

“In his Dáil response, the Minister claimed that the matter was the subject of extensive discussion at the Community Sector High Level Forum. This is not correct. Figures provided by department officials during a limited engagement with union representatives were proven to be completely inaccurate. 

He added: “The High Level Forum, which includes representatives of government departments, statutory agencies and trade unions involved in the community sector, was due to convene quarterly to allow this and other issues to be properly considered but has not met since December 2017.” 

Fórsa assistant general secretary, Ian McDonnell, said: “Since December 2017, union representatives have been waiting to meet with the Minister, or his officials, to show how figures referred to by his Department in relation to the cost of honouring the Labour Court recommendation on the right of community employment scheme supervisors to a pension are completely inaccurate.” 

He added: “We will be calling on TDs to raise this issue in the Dáil and directly with the Minister. The Community Sector High Level Forum must be convened urgently in order to address the very serious issues in the sector.”