|To All DFI Members,
I want to briefly set out what has been going on over the past week or so in relation to the forthcoming strike action. My apologies for not having sent this to you earlier. To complement this update, I will also outline DFI’s perspective and approach.
What has been going on, the headlines:
The Budget on Tuesday, where we also focused on the retention and recruitment issue, took intensive work over the past few weeks.
Last week, there were critical engagements, The Wheel Group met ICTU and the three unions at their invitation on Wednesday the 4th.
On Thursday 5th, we were a signatory on the Wheel’s letter to An Taoiseach and we did media work around this. We also issued our own DFI letter earlier in the week to An Taoiseach prior to the budget.
Friday 6th, there was a meeting called by DCEDIY, with Dept of Health also, involving us and the wider Wheel Group.
This week kicked off with engagement from the HSE, Bernard O’Regan. That progressed to a further meeting at lunchtime yesterday. From that came an outline to us in relation to how we might support the HSE in their work. This was to be considered by our Board, which, by coincidence, was meeting in the afternoon and in any event, the Strike was the most important matter for consideration.
We are engaging closely with the other disability umbrella bodies and we also have regular engagements with The Wheel Group.
We have also raised this issue in the print and broadcast media through press releases and interviews.
DFI’s perspective and approach, as things are now.
Our approach continues to keep the focus on the disabled person and their family in relation to the devastating impact that any strike action would have while doing everything to use this opportunity to fashion a sustainable platform for service delivery into the future. One which has our organisations in a sustainable position to provided services and supports in line with the CRPD. This is, as you know, also a core ambition of our Strategic Plan.
The DCEDIY and ICTU meetings were both seeking the support and cooperation of the organisations, in their employer role. So now both the Union and Government sides are seeking our support. This is good but we need to be careful in how we do this. We must understand that the impasse is between them both, and DFI cannot directly take any action to resolve it in the sense that it needs money to achieve that. Yet it is crucial that we are involved around what the future will look like in relation to the orientation of service supports, CRPD, and the role of our organisations.
We are committed to doing whatever we can to support the two primary players, the Unions/staff and Government/DCEDIY/HSE to firstly have the strike averted in order to have time to have a sustainable solution agreed and actioned.
We share the goal of having a sustainable solution that provides a platform upon which person-centred services can be credibly provided and developed for the years ahead.
We continue to bring our primary focus of the person along with their families, that rely on these services.
We are available throughout the weekend and into Tuesday to support in any way possible.
DFI is clear that it has a vital and critical role to help get beyond the strike to a sustainable platform for service provision where our organisations are properly supported. All of this, as you know, is in keeping with the thrust of our Strategic Plan.
The folk to be on strike, are all committed people to those whom they serve, and they support them up close and in a personal way. They also know their family situations. They are seeking to be treated like others, in relation to pay, who are doing the same work with other disabled people. That is by way of saying that they are to be respected and that we all continue to relate to them as close colleagues. Their actions have brought this long-standing issue to a head and now we have the opportunity to achieve a sustainable solution.
We ran an email campaign to TDs and Senators earlier in the year, where we called for resolution to this outstanding issue. This was fully backed by staff, and we received a good response to the email writing campaign, with more than 3,300 emails sent to elected representatives.
Thanks to all of you for your work, understanding and support so far. While the strike action has pushed this long running, but unaddressed issue to the fore, it is good that the political system is now fully engaged.
This is where we need to put all our energy. It is very frustrating that it has taken this to get to this point, but right now let’s keep the focus on the opportunity that exists.
We have been engaged with some members in relation to gathering data to inform our advocacy on the issue and will be extending that next week.
13 October 2023.
Chief Executive Officer
Disability Federation of Ireland