NI council workers join strike

Published Thursday, 10 July 2014
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Council workers in Northern Ireland joined public sector employees in England and Wales in strike action on Thursday.

Tens of thousands of people across the regions including civil servants, teachers, local government staff joined the picket line for one day.

Six unions were on strike in NI - NIPSA, UNISON, UNITE, GMB, SIPTU, and PCS.

They are in dispute with the government over pay, pensions and working conditions.

Unions say council staff have suffered below inflation pay rises, or wage freezes, every year since the coalition came to power.

Council services affected by the industrial action included bins and recycling, leisure centres, parks and cemeteries as well as health and environment services.

John Gonsalves, shop steward at Grove Wellbeing Centre, said: "The staff have stepped outside here today in protest from all Belfast City Councils unions for a pound an hour increase in payrise.

"We haven't had an increase in pay in three years. The cost of living has gone up, the pay has stayed the same which in effect is a paycut.

"We're standing in solidarity together to put across a positive message for the people of Belfast - for the Parks Department, for Leisure Services and for all Belfast City Council departments."

Alison Millar, Deputy General Secretary of NIPSA said that the high turnout had sent a "clear message" to local government employers to resolve the dispute.

"There are reports from across Northern Ireland that thousands of workers in Local Government, Housing Executive, Education, Libraries, Youth Justice Agency NSL Traffic Attendants and other public sector workers have joined the call for strike action.

"The message from the striking workers was strong - ignore us at your peril. The unions collectively agreed that if the employers refuse to negotiate then further strike action will take place in September."

Meanwhile, the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) called on ministers and senior officials to hold genuine negotiations over the issues under dispute.

Their members include staff in jobcentres, benefit offices, passport centres, courts, immigration at ports and airports.

PCS National secretary Lynn Henderson said: "Ministers praise public servants for their hard work and dedication but at the same time they are slashing their living standards warm words do not pay the bills or put food on the table, public sector workers need a pay rise.

"Our members will not sit back and watch public services being bled by austerity cuts. We will fight for jobs, decent pay, fair pensions and for properly funded public services."

© UTV News
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12 Comments
Bin man in Belfast wrote (104 days ago):
Re Sregsark, would you rather the bin men not go in and peoples bins be left a month? I take it your bin isn't a Thursday collection. The bin men take everything in the neck more than any other council employee cuz were front line staff. If the bin men don't go in the council will employ agency to do it at a higher cost to the council. People don't notice if a computer or council building is closed for the day but they notice the bin not being emptied and due to health an safety they need emptied. Sorry for any inconvenience caused but it's the low paid who need your support, the bin men, street cleaners, community centre workers and cleaners. MPs say no to £1 per hr but are quick to give themselves an 11% pay raise as they did at the drop of a hat. I rather the issue be sorted and we don't strike again.
John in Newtownabbey wrote (106 days ago):
They have a point. Years of pay freeze whilst the MPs who instigated the cuts vote themselves 11% of a pay rise.
Yer Man in North Belfast wrote (107 days ago):
Catch yourselves on, a £1 per hour rise... What percentage does that equate to? Idiots..Consider yourselves lucky yous have a job, council staff get a higher rate than plenty of other places. What good did your strike do????? Nothing accept p*** off people who use and need council facilities.
stevie in the wee ards wrote (107 days ago):
aye, those council folk just got a good raise to 7.50 an hour. now they want more!!! disgracefull altogether. no doubt my bins will have to sit a few more days over this glorious twelth weekend. what about the private sector or do the jokers on the hill not give a stuff about us. havnt had a raise in 5 years now they offer us 1% absolute joke as our rate is 2p more than the minimum wage. the minimum wage is just a guide line anyway not what the lowest you can pay is!!!
Paddy in The Real World wrote (107 days ago):
Oh my heart bleeds for all those in a public sector job..... What a complete joke this is, going on strike just because they haven't got a pay rise in 3 years. You should think yourselves lucky that you even got a pay rise 3 years ago. I'm sure the vast majority of people working in the private sector (including myself) hasn't got a pay rise since the recession started all those years ago. But do we throw our toys out of the pram and go on strike .... NO because we can't. We just get on with it and be thankful that we even have a job. If you's don't want to do your job for the money your getting then move on and give the job to one of the thousands of unemployed people out there that can't get a job at the minute, I'm sure they would be more than happy to do your job for the same money your getting now. Anyway if you's did get a pay rise then no doubt everybody else will suffer to cover it, with either everybody else's taxes going up or less money being spent on more important things like medicine, school equipment etc. GROW UP AND GET BACK TO WORK!!!. (Just think of the overtime pay you will all get paid now to catch up on wasting today).
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