SIPTU members employed in Section 39 organisations met with the Minister of State with Responsibilities for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath, yesterday (Thursday, 8th November), to request that the Government commits to providing them with pay restoration by increasing the block healthcare support grant. Speaking after the meeting SIPTU member, Liz Cloherty, said: “We proposed that an increase in the grant, provided for specific care providers, could be used to reverse wage cuts imposed on low-paid healthcare contractors in 2010. “Section 39 workers had their pay cut by up to 8% in the wake of the financial crisis. However, unlike other healthcare workers directly employed by the Government and in HSE facilities, Section 39 workers have not seen any pay restoration.” SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “We welcome the positive engagement with the Minister and appreciate his support and commitment to continue to highlight the plight of Section 39 workers at cabinet level. SIPTU representatives will not stand by and accept government and HSE attempts to wash their hands of this injustice by stating they are not directly involved in the employment of Section 39 workers. “The facts remain that, in 2010, a political decision was made to cut the block funding grant, which triggered wage cuts for up to 10,000 workers in Section 39 organisations. This means the State is intrinsically involved. All industrial relations bodies, including the Workplace Relations Commission, have endorsed the workers position but both the Government and HSE have refused to act. Our members are now seeking support from across the political spectrum to have this injustice resolved.”  SIPTU Sector Organiser, Tony Kenny, said: “Section 39 workers are in hospices, community hospitals and Rehab facilities. In the intellectual disabilities support sector alone, one in ten workers is employed on a Section 39 contract. Staff undertake precisely the same work as directly employed HSE staff and must have the same qualifications. The only difference is in the pay packet. “This pay injustice is now so severe that hundreds of workers are quitting the sector, leaving people who rely on services potentially exposed and vulnerable. We need action on this now.”