12th October 2023
IMPORTANT INFORMATION -CONFIDENTIAL CORK CIL STAFF ONLY
This letter contains a lot of information and outlines current circumstances which will affect Cork Centre for Independent Living (Cork CIL) Personal Assistant (PA) services. Please take the time to read it carefully.
Many of you will have read about the planned indefinite strike action from 17th October 2023. The decision to strike followed ballots carried out by Fórsa, the INMO and SIPTU after negotiations with HSE and Work Relations Commission(WRC) in relation to Pay Parity broke down. Cork CIL has not yet received notice of industrial action by any of our staff, but this does not mean that we will not be affected.
If Cork CIL is affected we will prioritise the Service Users using the same approach as we did during the height of the Covid- 19 pandemic. This means we will prioritise service users who receive supports with personal care and / or very essential social support for people who live alone and have no other supports available to them. In the event of industrial action services will be affected.
Some organisations have been identified as employments where staff will take indefinite strike action from Tuesday 17th October. I am aware that these organisations are in discussion with the unions to explore what derogations can be made but I have no update in this regard.
If a Service User/ Leader has a service from or attends one of these organisations and the industrial action affects them e.g., they cannot attend a day service I regret that Cork CCIL cannot provide any additional PA hours. If you work with a Service User in a setting that is affected by strike action, we may ask you to work the same hours in the Service User’s home or the session may be cancelled.
Staffing Issues and Service Funding
As you know Cork CIL services are funded by HSE. This budget has remained unaltered for some time. In 2022 and in 2023 we have seen our costs increase. These growing costs are on items like mileage, utilities, insurance, and professional fees that as a company we have to pay. Pay for ALL our staff has not risen since 2020 but we have experienced a lot of long-term sickness absence, and this has also added to our costs in a way we have not experienced before.
In 2022 along with all organisations Cork CIL received a once off additional funding to offset ‘ cost of living’ increases. This meant that we avoided having a budget deficit in 2022. Without any additional funding in 2023 we are exceeding our income for the year and will have a budget deficit at the end of the year. Once off funding is not a long term solution and whilst we continue to argue for increased funding to be able to provide our essential services we need to manage our activity to try to keep our overspend to minimum.
For the remainder of 2023 and into early 2024 Cork CIL cannot commence any new PA hours or commence any hours that are currently ‘on hold ‘except in very exceptional circumstances and only with additional funding identified.
One important thing is for us to reduce non worked cancelled paid hours. I have written to all Service Users to ask them to give us as much notice as possible if they need to cancel a PA. IMPORTANT -If you are cancelled directly, please remember to contact us as soon as you are informed. Do not assume the Service User/ Leader will do this.
If the cancellation is late notice remember that you must be available to be redeployed to retain the eligibility for cancelled paid session. In the current climate these will be the only sessions we have capacity to reallocate.
If you do not want to be redeployed when cancelled and I do appreciate that for PA’s who work with a lot of service users and take a lot of cover this can be exhausting you can ask to take it as paid leave if you have it accrued or as an unpaid session. If you are unsure talk to us.
We do our best to cover essential sessions, but we are currently experiencing a lot of challenges in getting staff to cover sessions. Because of this unresolving difficulty we must now prioritise the most essential cover first (personal care and partial cover for essential social for people living alone). I have written to all Service Users to encourage them to think about their own social supports and their own backup plans.
If a Service User asks you to swap a session to a different day or time and this (i) suits you, (ii) does not impact another Leader and (iii) has no addition cost then this is one way we can continue to be flexible. Remember to inform us of any changes you agree.
If our staffing challenges continue we may need to redirect you to priority Service Users, but we will try to keep this to the absolute minimum.
Cork CIL has always tried to provide some additional PA sessions for people who live alone on the lead up to Christmas. This is mainly for social supports like shopping. I regret that we cannot offer this this year so please encourage your Service Users to plan ahead.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you.
General Manager Cork CIL