Eilish Balfe, Labour Party Local Area Representative for Ratoath has told Meath Live that care workers are entitled to a pay rise after a decade and a half without one.

She was speaking as the Dáil debated a Labour Party motion in support of the SIPTU Section 39 workers who are in dispute over their pay and conditions.

Balfe said, ‘Like may industries mainly staffed by women the government appear to take the attitude that their love of the job will see them soldier on, those in charge rely on that keeping them working, but there comes a time when someone has to say we need more and that time is now.

“There are thousands of workers across Section 39 bodies who provide vital care services in communities across Ireland. This Government thinks that their goodwill will continue, but the time has come for pay restoration and for respect for workers who carry out the most crucial, frontline services.”

“Section 39 workers must be put on the same statutory footing as those doing the same work in the HSE when it comes to pay and conditions.”

“I know as someone who has been fighting for better pay for the early years education sector how difficult it is for these workers, mostly women, to cope with the rising cost of living that is hitting us all right now where it hurts – in our pockets.”

“It was great to see that Meath County Council recently endorsed a motion in support of pay justice for workers in Section 39 and community sector organisations.”

“The Labour Party is now calling on the government to commit to a formal process to recognise and engage with workers in the sector and their trade unions, and ensure public sector pay rises are automatically passed on in future.

“Care workers in Section 39 and similar organisations provide an immeasurable contribution to society, filling the gaps left by the State, providing a range of vital health and personal social services. The wheels of care in this State could not turn without them. It’s time that they were treated fairly by this government.”