Victory secured for home helps
Four years ago, when Councillor Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin was canvassing for election, he learnt that home helps were paid by the health boards at a rate of 75p an hour. ``Following a strong campaign, especially in Cork by the AT&GWU, which enlisted the home helps into their ranks, and the work of the local union rep in Cork, Mary Arrowsmith, home helps are now on £4.50 an hour minimum, and this month the rate goes up to £5 an hour,'' Ó Súilleabháin says.
Councillor Ó Súilleabháin was very active in promoting the campaign, in the Clonakilty UDC, in organising meetings in the County and bringing the matter up at the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland's (AMAI) annual conference.
However, claiming no credit for himself, Councillor Ó Súilleabháin points out that the victory came through ``the organisation of home helps into a formidable force which challenged the Health Boards and the Ministers for Health over the past couple of years. We all learnt together what can be done if you stick together as a group, rather than fighting as individuals against the system.''
In January 2001 the home help rate goes up to £6.50 an hour backdated to January of this year. They have won their battle for holiday pay and sick pay, and some have even received holiday back pay in four-figure sums.