There is a feeling of absolute relief that the strike action that was due to commence at 8.00am this morning has been suspended by the Unions involved.
Relief, running alongside deep anger and upset that it was let go to this stage. This has implications for our collective efforts to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
It is important to also reflect on how things got to this point. I have commented already that there was a particular cruelty in letting disabled people and their families endure the dread of strike action. It should not have come to this.
But, right now, we all have work to do to ensure that what finally emerges is both fair and sustainable.
The recruitment and retention crisis has been fuelled by the long-running disparity in how some organisations, including Section 39, were funded and consequently the growing disparity in pay and other areas.
A culture has been embedded which saw it as acceptable to have some elements of essential health and social care services resourced on terms that were substantially less than what was the agreed rate by Government with others delivering the same or similar services.
The fact that the HSE was setting the funding levels for the Section 39 organisations while having a higher rate for other organisations and itself, is significant.
This is the fault line that must be repaired, otherwise the issue will pertain. Doing this requires funding, a serious change in culture and a change in how decisions are made and implemented. Government cannot simply leave it to the departments of Health, Public Expenditure, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth along with the HSE to fully resolve this issue.
The terms of the proposed settlement will now be put to the membership of the Unions for consideration. We wish them well and there is a long way to go once this strike action is resolved. That work needs all parties working effectively together.
DFI looks forward to getting to a place where there is a real and evident lived-out respect for all public benefit disability organisations, their staff and most of all for those who need to benefit from their services through the funding and support arrangements with the State in line with the UN CRPD.
John Dolan, CEO
Disability Federation of Ireland
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