To mark World Health Day, the SIPTU Health Division has called on the government to prioritise investment in public health services and address the inequalities healthcare workers face across the sector.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “Healthcare workers play a critical role in society but they face many challenges. In particular, there is a major strain on emergency departments and acute hospital workers, exacerbated by the recruitment embargo currently enforced by the Health Service Executive (HSE). 

“We also have the plight of healthcare workers employed in Section 39 organisations, who are still awaiting the full implementation of a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) agreement from late 2023.”

He added: “These workers, essential in areas such as disability support, home care and elderly care, deserve recognition and fair treatment for their invaluable contributions to society, and our health services. The health system in Ireland would not function without them.”

On World Health Day, SIPTU has also highlighted the glaring disparities in earnings between healthcare workers in public, voluntary and private healthcare organisations. 

Figgis said: “Particularly concerning are the low wages experienced by some workers in the private sector, with hourly rates potentially being as low as the minimum wage. SIPTU has urged the government to address these inequities by ensuring collective bargaining rights in the sector, as many employers are hostile to trade unions.” 

He added: “Despite these challenges, our members have an unwavering dedication to providing high-quality care to patients across Ireland. World Health Day serves as a poignant reminder of the vital role healthcare workers play in society. SIPTU remains steadfast in its commitment to advocating for their rights and well-being.”