[Sinn Fein]

22nd January 2002

Minister should intervene in care workers' dispute

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called on the Minister for Health and Children Mícheál Martin to intervene in the care workers' dispute. Deputy Ó Caoláin questioned the role of the Minister in allowing a strike situation to develop. He said:

"The strike by IMPACT care workers is causing real hardship to many people with intellectual disabilities and to their parents and other relatives, often themselves elderly and hard-pressed to cope. All concerned must make every effort to bring about an early resolution.

"The union gave two months notice of industrial action and the Department of Health and Children circular on which their pay rise claim is based was issued as long ago as last April. As the Minister directly responsible for those in care and their families, and for care workers, it must be asked why Mícheál Martin allowed this situation to develop. He did not adopt a hands-on approach. He left it to the last minute to contact IMPACT directly and only commented publicly once the dispute began.

"I welcome the forthcoming Labour Court talks with SIPTU who postponed their action. The workers represented by both SIPTU and IMPACT deserve pay increases and fair remuneration for the very difficult and vital work of care which they perform."

Deputy Ó Caoláin raised the dispute at Monday's meeting of the North Eastern Health Board in Kells, Co. Meath

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