An Irish council has passed a motion that demands the Minister of Health to provide better wages and improved conditions to domiciliary care workers.

Sinn Féin Councillor, Michaela Boyle, tabled the motion to Derry City & Strabane District Council saying that private care companies receiving a Department of Health contract must pay workers a living wage.

She also called upon the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, to make the payment of a fuel cost allowance, in line with public sector rates, a further pre-requisite of any tender, reports Derry Now.

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The councillor explained that domiciliary care workers in rural areas were suffering financial stress due to rising fuel costs and that many were considering leaving the profession altogether.

Boyle added: “We have been, as a party, lobbying for the Minister to review the fuel allowance for care workers employed directly by the Western Trust.

“The current fuel allowance is simply not adequate to cover fuel and the running costs of their cars – especially those carers in rural areas where the distances they have to cover between clients is disproportionately longer.

“Domiciliary workers employed by the private sector are at a greater disadvantage. They have no statutory protection in terms of a minimum wage or a minimum fuel cost allowance.

“After working all week, many are left with little or nothing to live on once they pay their fuel costs and those workers that I have spoken to are on the verge of giving up.”

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