Trade unions NIPSA and Unison have said a near zero per cent increase in pay over the past four years, coupled with a rise in the cost of living and the need for staff to rely on government benefits, amounts workers receiving "poverty pay".The unions have said that for three years their members, who work in education, housing, local government and further education, have received no pay increase until a 1% rise last year.Later this month the employers are set to decide on a request from the unions for a £1 per hour increase for the workforce.Tuesday's demonstrations took place at Belfast City Hall and at the Guildhall in Derry.Alison Millar, NIPSA, deputy general secretary, said: "Our members demand that they receive a decent pay award after four years of almost a zero increase in their rates of pay."Members have seen the buying power of their pay stand still while the cost of housing, utility bills and food has increased to the point where many of our members are telling us they can no longer make ends meet."Many members are in receipt of tax credits and other benefits. So this government effectively has to subsidise their income - this cannot be right."Anne Speed, Unison head of bargaining and representation said workers in Northern Ireland received, on average, 12% less than their counterparts in the rest of the UK.She added: "Our low paid members working in these sectors will no longer tolerate poverty pay."The politicians of all persuasions need to take account of this stark reality and Northern Ireland representatives should stand up for the workers in this region and insist that they receive a decent pay increase."