TWO HUNDRED PEOPLE attended a rally in Wicklow Town yesterday to protest against attempts to reduce the pay and working hours of Home Helps.
The demonstration, which was attended by Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle and Sinn Féin councillor John Snell, finished up at the Wicklow Community and Family Services (WCFS) offices on Abbey Street.
Siptu organiser John Hubbard handed a letter to management there, seeking “meaningful negotiations” for workers.
“The Home Helps employed by WCFS provide vital and professional services to their clients in the Wicklow area,” he explained. “On 1 May, the management of WCFS implemented a 5 per cent pay cut without consultation or agreement with staff. Since 1 August a further 5 per cent pay cut has been implemented, all premium rate payments ended and zero hour contracts introduced.”
Union representatives say that the WCFS has failed to engage with them in any meaningful manner.
The workers were “overwhelmed” by the support they received during the demonstration yesterday afternoon.
Local deputy Andrew Doyle said that he attended the protest to see if he could find out what he could do to help resolve the problems.
“These people do a lot of valuable work which keeps people at home,” he said. “Home first has to be the priority. A small bit of money spent this way is far more cost effective than keeping people in residences.”
The WCFS is funded by the Health Service Executive but it had no comment to make on the situation or protest as it does not directly employ the Home Helps in question.