SIPTU members strike in Roscommon ‘to save National Advocacy Service’

SIPTU members on the picket line outside the Roscommon Citizens Information Service office in Roscommon West Business Park, Roscommon on Wednesday.

SIPTU members employed in the National Advocacy Service took to the picket lines across the country on Wednesday, 12th of June as part of a strike which they say is aimed at protecting the vital assistance they provide to disabled citizens.

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, John King, said: “The failure to maintain the pay and conditions of National Advocacy Service staff in line with those doing similar jobs is threatening the future of the service due to an inability to recruit new workers and experienced staff leaving.

“The workers took their case to have similar pay and conditions as people carrying out similar work to the Labour Court in January. They were given a favourable recommendation but their employer has not implemented it. This has left them with no option but to take strike action”.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan Carr, said: “National Advocacy Service staff carry out vital and confidential work with some of our most vulnerable citizens.

“The service works with more than 1500 disabled people each year providing in-person advocacy interventions in areas including housing, access to justice, health care, safeguarding and supporting in decision-making. This work includes accompanying clients to meetings with state agencies, helping advise them in court cases and working with them in hospitals and long-care settings”.

SIPTU Activist and National Advocacy Service staff member, Martina Kilgallon, on the picket line outside the Roscommon Citizens Information Service office in Roscommon West Business Park, County Roscommon, said: “Many clients are in institutions, inappropriately accommodated or living in the community with no supports at all and the National Advocacy Service is essential to supporting them to have their human rights respected as they should be under national and international law”.

She added: “The unfortunate impact strike action will have on service clients is deeply regretted by the staff. However, it is the outcome of intransigence by those who control the service and the Government. The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, has allowed a situation to arise where a government-funded body refuses to recognise a Labour Court recommendation, leaving us with no option but strike action”.

Pickets have been placed outside National Advocacy Service offices in Dublin 7, Tallaght, Bray, County Wicklow, Athlone, County Westmeath, Tullamore, County Offaly, Limerick City, County Roscommon, Waterford City, Cork City and Kilkenny.