SIPTU representatives have today (Wednesday, 23rd September) accused the Government of reneging on a pay restoration agreement for essential workers employed in over 250 Section 39 organisations providing frontline health and social care services. SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “SIPTU representatives left the Workplace Relations Commission yesterday utterly frustrated by the lack of progress made in resolving this long running dispute. The reality is that Section 39 workers are the same workers who have kept vital services going throughout this Covid-19 pandemic, been re-deployed to our nursing homes and isolation units in direct provision centres to stop spread of Covid-19 but when it comes to recognising this essential work, the Government has badly let them down. “To add insult to injury, our members are hearing noises from government that Section 39 workers will now be expected to clear the public service back log in assessing the needs of children with learning and intellectual disabilities. This abuse of our members’ goodwill must stop. Our members are proud of the work they do, have never been found wanting and thave more than earned the right to be paid for the work they do. If the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability at the Department of Health is serious about her plan to draft in Section 39 workers to plug the gaps in the public service then her government colleagues must release the funds needed to pay these essential workers promptly and honour the terms of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) agreement which unions negotiated in 2018.” He added: “We are at a critical juncture of this campaign. Today, SIPTU representatives are in intense discussions with our members to map out a clear industrial plan to resolve this long running pay justice dispute. On Thursday, (24th September) the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is convening a special meeting to discuss how union members and representatives can work together to bring this dispute to a speedy and fair conclusion. SIPTU members across the public sector are well aware of the injustice heaped upon Section 39 workers and they have no intention of leaving their fellow workers behind.”