SIPTU members employed by the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) have voted by 97% to 3% to conduct a work stoppage on Tuesday, 5th July, at its care centres across the country in a pay dispute in which they are demanding their first wage rise for 14 years. SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “The failure of these workers to receive a pay rise is not only leading to hardship for them, as the cost of living continues to rise, but is also threatening the future of the IWA and the vital services it provides. “It is with heavy heart our members have decided they have no other option but to conduct industrial action to advance their long running claim for pay justice. This dispute is a direct result of a failure by the Government to engage with unions representing workers throughout the care and community sector on pay and conditions.” He added: “This action is part of a wider co-ordinated campaign of upcoming industrial action across the care and community sector. The demand of the Valuing Community campaign, which is backed by SIPTU, Fórsa, INMO and ICTU, is to provide these workers with a forum in which they can achieve fair pay rises. Otherwise, we face a flow of workers out of the care and community sector and a decline in the services they provide which will adversely affect some of the most vulnerable in our society. “Our members in the care and community sector have suffered more than a decade of discontent and they will take no more.” SIPTU activist and IWA Personal Assistant, Deborah Walsh, said: “As IWA Personal Assistants we go out into the community and we care for people in their homes. We do their personal care such as toileting and showering. We also do social hours, that is bringing members who live in the community out to do things such as shopping or go to the cinema. This ensures that they remain active within their communities.” She added: “We have not had a pay rise since before 2008, which is 14 years ago. We do basically the same job as a Healthcare Assistants in the HSE but are paid considerably less. We do a very important job and if we don’t get a proper rate of pay people are going to look for work elsewhere. In that situation our service users will suffer and their ability to live independent lives will be threatened. It is concern for those people that is at the heart of our campaign.”