Unions have announced a series of one-day strike actions in community and voluntary sector agencies in Galway, Mayo, Cork and Donegal later this month.

Disability and other services will be affected by the industrial action, which is part of a campaign demanding improved funding and pay for the sector.

The work stoppages will take place on Wednesday 21 September and Thursday 22 September.

The agencies affected include the Irish Wheelchair Association in Cork, St. Josephs Foundation, EmployAbility Cork, Western Care, Ability West and selected community employment (CE) schemes in Donegal.

Unions say that health and social care professionals employed in agencies and funded by the Health Service Executive are paid significantly less than equivalent workers employed directly by the HSE and other State bodies.

'Section 39' organisations are contracted to provide services on behalf of the HSE for a funding grant in accordance with Section 39 of the Health Act 2004.

The Department of Health says that because such organisations are privately owned, setting pay rates for their staff is not a matter for the Government.

"Government is failing to grasp the link between its chronic underfunding of the services we're talking about and the failure to meet the HSE’s recruitment targets in, for example, disability services," said Fórsa national secretary Ashley Connolly.

SIPTU official Adrian Kane accused the Government of allowing the community and voluntary sector to operate in a policy "blind-spot".

"This strike action is designed to move these organisations into the Government's line of sight and to illustrate just how vital these services are," Mr Kane said.