Unite members in councils, education authority, housing executive and schools launch first week of strike action to win improved pay

Strike likely to result in significant disruption to council services, housing executive maintenance and school transport.

Union members will be striking for improved pay at all eleven local councils, the Education Authority, the NI Housing Executive, North West Regional College, Belfast Metropolitan College, St Columb’s College, South Eastern Regional College, Lumen Christi College and the Northern Regional College. The strike follows an overwhelming vote to reject a pay offer from local government employers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland of just 1.75 per cent for the year 2021-22. The pay offer would mean another real terms pay cut and comes after eleven years of pay freezes.

Unite is seeking localized settlements to deliver improved pay despite the other two signatory unions in the bargaining processes of the ‘Green Book’ NJC having agreed the 1.75 per cent pay offer. The union is seeking locally agreed improvements through raising pay grades, reduced working hours, more paid holidays and other benefits.

The pay of council workers, education workers and housing executive workers in Northern Ireland has stagnated over the last decade meaning real terms falls in their standards of living of 11 per cent over the period. The NJC pay offer of a bare 1.75 per cent increase is a real terms pay cut of more than seven per cent when set against the 1.25 per cent hike in national insurance and surging inflation (currently 7.8 per cent).

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham expressed her union’s support for its members on picket lines across Northern Ireland:

“I stand with and fully support all our Unite members working for local authorities, the NI Housing Executive, the Education Authority and schools who have taken to the picket lines across Northern Ireland today.

“You are right not to sit back and accept an insulting 1.75% pay offer while you are having to cope with rocketing inflation. It is a disgrace that workers are once again being asked to pick up the bill for the failings of politicians.

“You can count on my continued support in your fight for localized pay deals that secure real improvements to pay. Unite will be backing you all the way.”

ENDS

Note for editors: Strike ballot results in the councils and larger employers were as follows: Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council 96 percent; Ards and North Down Borough Council 97 percent; Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon ​​Borough Council 96 percent; Belfast City Council 92 percent; Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council 82 percent; Derry City & Strabane District Council 94 percent; Fermanagh and Omagh District Council 94 percent; Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council 94 percent; Mid and East Antrim Borough Council 84 percent; Mid-Ulster District Council 93 percent; Newry, Morne and Down District Council 95 percent; Education Authority 94 percent; NI Housing Executive 94 percent.

For further information or to interview Unite Regional Officers: Gareth Scott (Causeway Coast & Glens, Derry City & Strabane, Fermanagh & Omagh, Mid-Ulster, North West Regional College, St Columb’s College, Lumen Christi), tel. 07764 292005; Kieran Ellison (Antrim & Newtownabbey, Belfast City, Lisburn & Castlereagh, Mid & East Antrim, Newry, Morne & Down, Education Authority, South East Regional College, Belfast Met), tel. 07495 672589; Joanne McWilliams (Antrim & North Down), tel. 07879 692024; Brenda Stephenson (Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon), tel. 07815 706102; George Brash (Northern Regional College), tel. 07771 818636; Michael Keenan (NI Housing Executive), tel. 07795 195687; or Donal O’Cofaigh, Unite Campaigns, Communications & Press (NI), tel. 07810 157926.

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