Voluntary bodies seek ‘urgent’ intervention by Taoiseach to prevent strike dispute

October 6 2023, 11:10am

Coalition Taoiseach

Thursday 5 October 2023:  A coalition of nine voluntary health and social care service providers and charity sector representative bodies, including DFI, has published an open letter to the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, requesting his intervention to address the threat of indefinite strike action by staff in community and voluntary sector organisations delivering vital public services starting on Tuesday, 17 October 2023.

Pictured presenting the letter at the Department of the Taoiseach are: 

Fergal Landy (Family Resource Centres National Forum), Javier de la Heras (National Voluntary Drug and Alcohol Sector),  Alison Harnett (National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers), Ivan Cooper (The Wheel), John Dolan (Disability Federation of Ireland), Tracey Monson (Coalition of Túsla Funded Organisations), Caroline O' Connell  (Dublin Homeless Network), Wayne Stanley (Simon Communities of Ireland).

The open letter is reproduced below: 

Dear Taoiseach, 

We are writing to request your intervention on the threat of indefinite strike action by staff in community and voluntary sector organisations delivering vital public services, from Tuesday, October 17 next.   

Health and social care professionals employed in our sector through section 39, 56 and 10 organisations and funded by state agencies such as HSE and Túsla, are paid very significantly less than equivalent workers employed directly. 

These systemic differentials in pay and resources for people doing the same work result from government cuts made after the economic crash of 2008. These cuts have been reversed in other sectors making them more attractive to staff. Consequently, staff retention and recruitment in our sector is increasingly untenable.  

Strike notice was served on September 25th last. We are extremely concerned that, halfway through this period of strike notice, there is as yet no evidence of any progress or serious initiative to resolve the matter. Thousands of vulnerable families and individuals are already impacted by the pay and retention crisis that led to this dispute, resulting in delayed or curtailed service delivery and ever-lengthening waiting lists. 

We acknowledge your comments in the Dáil on September 27th last, regarding community and voluntary sector staff, that “the government is the main funder of all the services they provide. That is why we absolutely have a role to play in funding these organisations.” 

We, therefore, now request your urgent and immediate intervention to ensure delivery of adequate, sustainable government funding for retention and recruitment of staff in our sector. 

This will also prevent additional suffering for the most vulnerable families and individuals in our society that will otherwise result from indefinite strike action. In the absence of a resolution, the ability of organisations to deliver services to the most vulnerable will be very severely compromised. 


Marian Quinn 
Chairperson, Coalition of Túsla Funded Organisations  

John Dolan, 
CEO, Disability Federation of Ireland  

Catherine Kenny 
Chairperson, Dublin Homeless Network  

Fergal Landy, 
CEO, Family Resource Centres National Forum  

Alison Harnett, 
CEO, National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers  

Stacey Lyons 
Co-ordinator, National Voluntary Drug and Alcohol Sector  

Wayne Stanley 
Executive Director, Simon Communities of Ireland  

Ivan Cooper, 
CEO, The Wheel, the National Association of Charities