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Nothing better than a good employer? Bunkum! "Trade Unions - you only realise you should be in one when you need to be in one." So says Joe Grennell, co-ordinator of Ringsend Action Project CDP. Joe carried out a survey in the Eastern Region two years ago and found only 3% of workers in the Community Development Programme were Trade Union members. By contrast, membership is understood to be quite high in the west and mid-west of Ireland. Joe backs the Dublin Employment

Pact’s work to boost membership. "I don’t subscribe to the American ideal that you can’t do better than having a good employer. To use the American expression, that’s bunkum! It’s about good practise. "Particularly in the Community Development Programme, where you have a turnover of voluntary management, you could find three years down the road that your employers are completely different people. "Unionising also promotes good

governance, because the management committee members realise they are actually employers. "In some cases, in a community development setting, you’ve got neighbours employing neighbours. It can be difficult the voluntary members might expect him or her to work 70 hours a week. "There are good and bad employers out there, and for that simple reason, employees should have some protection," added Joe.

Unions make breakthrough for Community sector - finance now talking to unions on community workers’ salaries IN a major breakthrough for community development workers, the Department of Finance - which holds the purse strings for much of the community sector - has agreed to discuss workers’ pay and conditions with Trade Unions. The breakthrough was made by IMPACT and SIPTU during the recent Social Partnership talks. Up to now, the Department of Finance has refused to discuss pay and conditions stating that it is not the employer for the community sector. In response, the Trade Unions have always argued that the funder must be part of negotiations on pay and conditions. "We see no point in putting pressure on community based management committees to provide better conditions, in the absence of proper funding, when we know they are already running their projects on tight budgets," explained Gerry Flanagan of SIPTU. Workers in the community sector are badly paid and have poor conditions compared to workers in other areas. The lack of pensions, sick pay or training are made worse by the lack of job security. "The government depends on the commitment and energy of people working in the community sector to provide vital services and support, but they want this on the cheap. Like any other workers, people in the

Dessie Robinson, IMPACT – "Like any other workers, people in the community sector have a right to be paid properly for what they do."

community sector have a right to be paid properly for what they do," said Dessie Robinson of IMPACT. SIPTU and IMPACT are the main unions organising within the community sector and, where union membership is high, real gains have been made by the unions. 90% of Community Training Centre employees are members of a trade union and they have received pay rises and benchmarking. Pensions and pay increases, including benchmarking, have also been achieved for Local Training Initiatives and Homeless Agencies. The low trade union membership generally,

however, means that unions have not been able to use their full strength on behalf of the community sector. "In order to get the best deal from the talks with Finance, it is vital that we up TU membership. Our voice around the table is only as strong as our membership," said Gerry Flanagan. "The two unions are working closely together – we are not competing for members. We can agree on the appropriate union for each employment. Employees in the community sector should now join the appropriate union to achieve real gains. Remember - strength in numbers’ said Dessie Robinson. The unions made their announcement through the Dublin Employment Pact which is working to improve employment conditions and practices in the community and voluntary sector following research carried out which highlighted a range of problems. For example almost three quarters of organisations rely on receipt of annual funding to renew contracts of employment. Meanwhile, almost half have no written policy on any good employment practices. • For more information, contact: Gerry Flanagan, SIPTU, Tel. 01-8586395. Email:; Dessie Robinson, IMPACT, Tel. 01-8171585. E-mail:

An ally for everyone in the C & V sector THE Dublin Employment Pact (DEP) has three aspects to its work in the community and voluntary sector: It works with IMPACT and SIPTU to increase union membership. It is an Employment Resource Bureau to provide advice and information to employers.

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It is an Employers' Forum which has begun enabling employers to tackle common employment problems. The Forum is also a place where unions and employers can interact and put more concerted pressure on government on the funding issues which prevent employers from providing better conditions and


policies. DEP is keen to contact organisations who wish to participate. • For further info contact Jean Somers, Dublin Employment Pact, Tel. 01-8787900. E-mail:

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Hot in Issue 19: - MAIN STORY: THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME EXPLAINED - ALSO: - We want rights, not charity! (Kerry) - Ireland’s bigg...


Hot in Issue 19: - MAIN STORY: THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME EXPLAINED - ALSO: - We want rights, not charity! (Kerry) - Ireland’s bigg...