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Most of the Voluntary I.D. Services have indicated their intention to reduce salaries, indeed some have already done so, in line with the salary reductions imposed on Public Sector employees as announced in Budget 2010.

Funding for Voluntary Agencies is provided by the HSE under sections 38 and 39 of the Health Act 2004.
Section 38 provides for the HSE to enter into an “arrangement” while section 39 provides for “assistance”.

It appears the bodies receiving funding under section 38 have a Public Service Pension Scheme in operation, which in the I.D. Service is the Nominated Health Agencies Superannuation Scheme while those funded under section 39 do not.
The Secretary General of the Dept of Health, Mr. Scanlon, has confirmed that the legislation applying the salary cuts in the Public Service (the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (no2) Bill 2009) does not apply to voluntary Agencies who are funded under section 39.

The PNA met with the Federation of Voluntary Bodies yesterday (9thFeb) and put it to the Federation that the deductions from salary that have been imposed are illegal and that it would be our intention to refer the cases of all those who have had this illegal deduction imposed to a Rights Commissioner under the Payment of Wages Legislation. The PNA also pointed out that we could not rule out the possibility of strike action.

The Federation stated their unhappiness, both, with the HSE for the situation of having their funding reduced by the amount of the pay cut, yet are not covered by the legislation to reduce salaries and with the Unions for challenging what they believe are essential cutbacks if they are to maintain services and prevent redundancies. They refer to the correspondence from Mr Scanlon which confirms that the Legislation does not apply to Section 39 funded agencies but advises them to "take appropriate measures to ensure that they continue to provide the same level of service in 2010 as previously, notwithstanding the reductions in their funding". The Federation state that in addition to the reduction in funding for pay there has also been a further reduction of around 5% in their allocation over that of last year.

They indicated that they had conveyed their unhappiness to Mr. Sean McGrath H.R. Director HSE, at a meeting held earlier that morning, following which, I understand, that it is Mr. McGrath’s intention to invite all the parties, Unions and the Federation to a meeting within the next few days.

While not sure what this meeting will achieve the PNA will attend, if for nothing other than to hear the HSE explain this decision to cut funding for pay which is clearly illegal.

We will post a further bulletin following this meeting