The trade unions Impact and Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (Siptu) have called for a march and rally later this month in support of home help.
The march will leave St. Conal’s in Letterkenny at 1pm on Friday, Oct. 19th and proceed to the town’s Market Square for the rally. The march follows meetings Impact held with home help in Letterkenny last week, and meetings Siptu held yesterday in Letterkenny and Ballybofey.
“I think we’ve decided what we need is to give a focal point to the concerns of service users, families, communities and the trade union in order to express our very deep concerns of the impact these cuts are going to have on frontline services in our communities,” said Richy Carrothers, assistant general secretary of Impact.
The Health Service Executive’s plans to cut home help by 5.5 percent from late August until the end of this year will mean the loss of more than 25,000 home-help hours in Donegal alone, Mr. Carrothers said.
“The HSE was already reducing services, reducing the standard on home help, and this is yet going to have a further major effect on the delivery of services,” he said.
Declan Ó Fearraigh, industrial organiser for the health division of Siptu, said they are asking for the HSE to reverse the decision on the cuts and to enter into meaningful discussion with the trade unions. Many home helps are not being given their contracted hours, Mr. Ó Fearraigh said. He said the unions have seen more tenders for home help service given to private, for-profit companies
“They are privatising, there’s no doubt about it,” Mr. Ó Fearraigh said, adding that home help staff are finding themselves with fewer and fewer hours.
Mr. Carrothers said in some cases, home helps’ time with a client has already been reduced to 15 minutes per visit, not enough time for the home help to perform daily tasks. He said the cuts would also result in a false economy if the withdrawal of home help services results in more people being admitted to hospital.
“I think for workers on the ground, what they would advocate is these cuts are going to hurt the most vulnerable,” Mr. Carrothers said.
Donegal county councillors have also been invited to attend the march. Though there will be no political speakers at the rally, the unions have asked councillors to show their support by stewarding the march.