SIPTU Organiser, Sharon Cregan, said: “This move will bring to an end a long period of uncertainty for the staff employed at the centre which cares for women with intellectual disabilities. The issue emerged in early 2017 with disagreement between the HSE and Sisters of Charity over who was responsible for the staff when the centre was de-registered.
“The Section 39 organisation was governed by the Sisters of Charity until the HSE stepped in in March 2017. Within months, HIQA published a report on foot of a visit to the centre which identified major non-compliance issues in key areas. These issues have been resolved and with the agreement which has been reached for COPE Foundation to assume the operations of the service the future of the workforce is also now ensured.
“Throughout this time the staff maintained continuity of service. The staff have worked with the residents for many years. They know them and wanted to ensure their wellbeing and that they could live as independently as possible.
“We received today (Thursday, 3rd September) correspondence from the HSE inviting both SIPTU and the INMO to meet its representatives on Thursday next, 10th September, to commence discussions and negotiations in relation to the impending transfer. At this meeting union representatives will be ensuring that this transfer of undertakings progresses successfully.
“The COPE Foundation is a Section 38 organisation. As such it is funded to provide a defined level of service on behalf of the HSE and will provide workers with improved terms and conditions of employment.”
She added: “The transfer of these services to the COPE Foundation is a very welcome development which should ensure the best outcome for the workers and residents of the St Vincent’s Centre.”