SIPTU members in Section 39 organisations have today (Friday, 9th February) deferred strike action, scheduled for next Wednesday (14th February), following an agreement, facilitated by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), to begin a process that will lead to the restoration of pay for thousands of health and social care workers. SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “After months of intense campaigning, SIPTU representatives have secured a viable process for a structured and transparent pay restoration mechanism for thousands of Section 39 workers. The process has independent oversight, facilitated by the WRC, and will see pay restoration commence on a phased basis in 2018. “This agreement commits the HSE and the Department of Health to a mechanism of pay restoration which is underpinned by strict timelines. The initial review to establish which Section 39 organisations have an established pay linkage with HSE organisations will be completed by the end of March 2018. Any disputes will be addressed by an agreed oversight body comprising of representatives of stakeholders and chaired by a WRC official. “Another crucial development was the statement in the Dáil yesterday by Minister for Health, Simon Harris, in which he conceded that this pay restoration process ‘will come with a bill that ultimately will need to be met’. “Due to the substantial progress that has been made, and in order to allow the process to commence, SIPTU members have agreed to defer, for a period of six weeks, their strike action which was scheduled to commence on Wednesday, 14th February. The ball is now in the court of the management of the Section 39 organisations, which have been identified as having a pay link with the public service. They must now play their part in bringing about pay restoration for their staff. In particular, we are calling on Section 39 employers with outstanding Labour Court recommendations concerning this issue to commence pay restoration immediately.” He added: “It was the brave decision to vote for strike action by our members in Section 39 organisations which brought about this progress towards pay restoration. They wish to acknowledge the support their campaign received from members of the Oireachtas, service users and their families. They also wish to acknowledge the work of the WRC and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in securing an agreed process in relation to this dispute.”