SIPTU representatives have today (Thursday, 10th December) confirmed that unions have made a significant breakthrough on pay restoration for members in 250 State-funded voluntary health and social service providers. The positive development for workers in these Section 39 employments follows a conciliation conference held under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). SIPTU Divisional Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “This interim settlement is well overdue but it delivers money into the pockets of our members’ pockets from next month and that is critically important. The issue of parity of treatment with colleagues in the larger section 39 employments hasn’t gone away and when the parties reconvene again at the WRC in 2021, SIPTU representatives will be fighting to ensure that all monies outstanding for our members are paid in full.” The union negotiating committee is now recommending that planned industrial action by members of SIPTU and Fórsa in Cork and Kerry next week be suspended on foot of an agreement between the group of unions and the HSE for two phases of pay restoration to be implemented next year.  The first of these payments is due to take effect from 1st January 2021 and will deliver up to €1000 of an annual increase in salary which will be paid that month.  A second instalment, equating to 50% of the outstanding restoration due, will take effect from 31st May 2021 and will be paid in June 2021.    The parties will convene again at the WRC at the beginning of the second quarter of 2021 to discuss the date of application of the final phase of pay restoration and a union claim for retrospective payments. Fórsa official, Catherine Keogh, said: “This has been an exceptionally challenging year for these workers. Our one-day strike took place on 14th February, which was just a few weeks before the Covid-19 crisis hit and these are the workers whose professionalism and experience was called upon like never before in response to that crisis. This is a welcome breakthrough, and some good news at the end of a long and very difficult year for them.” The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is to write to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, and request that membership of the Dialogue Forum with Voluntary Bodies be increased to include union representatives. The trade unions have argued that this forum can contribute to the resolution of the long-term structural issues in the sector and their inclusion is consistent with the commitments in the Programme for Government to wider and deeper social dialogue.