SIPTU members in several care and community organisations, including the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) as well as numerous local social services in county Galway and county Waterford, have begun a ballot for strike action in a long running pay dispute. SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “These workers provide vital services for their clients and communities. The last thing they want is to be forced into taking strike action. However, they have been left with no option due to the fact that most have not had a pay rise in more than a decade. “If our members in these selected workplaces vote in favour of industrial action this will initially involve work stoppages on Tuesday 5th July and Wednesday 6th July. They know this will result in a degree of hardship for those that depend on their services but believe that they have the support of their clients and communities in this fight. “Hundreds of SIPTU members are employed in the organisations which are balloting for strike action providing services including personal care, crisis intervention, meals on wheels, youth clubs and many other essential schemes. The current inflation rate and wider cost of living crisis is pushing many of these workers into the ranks of the working poor unable to afford basic necessities. “This situation is due to the failure of successive Governments to adequately fund the community sector and Section 39 organisations. This has resulted in our members being left way behind in terms of pay and conditions because of a break down in a previous link between their terms of employment with those of workers in the public sector. This is despite many of these workers carrying out roles which are directly comparable to those of public servants and vital to their local communities.” He added: “Government action can easily resolve this dispute. It must move to establish a long promised collective bargaining forum for workers in this sector. This is in-line with government commitments and a recent EU Directive instructing Member States to work to increase the number of workers in the economy who can collectively bargain to establish agreed terms and conditions of employment.” SIPTU members have commenced their ballot for strike action across the country in the Irish Wheelchair Association, in county Galway in Galway Rural Development, Galway Rape Crisis, Galway Employability and in several Community Employment Schemes across county Waterford. Workers in a number of other schemes in county Limerick and county Mayo are also balloting to take part in this initial stage of industrial action. The campaign of industrial action in these selected workplaces are part of the Valuing Community campaign for pay justice for workers in the community sector and Section 39 organisations which is supported by SIPTU, ICTU, Fórsa and the INMO.