Bin collections, school buses and NIHE maintenance across NI may be affected if proposed strike goes ahead

Refuse collection, school bus services and housing executive maintenance could be impacted by a proposed strike, says Unite the Union.

A ballot is to take place among local authority, Education Authority (EA) and NIHE workers on proposed industrial action after pay talks stalled.

The union revealed it has served notice of strike ballot and urged members to vote ‘yes’ for 10 percent after ‘strong rejection of employers’ insulting 1.75 percent pay offer’.

The ballot will open on Monday 24th January and remain open for four weeks.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council depot at Carn Industrial Estate in Craigavon, Co Armagh. Photo courtesy of Google.

A Unite spokesperson explained the strike ballot was called after the union rejected ‘an insulting below-inflation 1.75% pay offer for 2020-2021’. “Workers are seeking a 10% increase to address historic wage erosion as pay deals have fallen ever further behind inflation. With the cost of living surging above seven percent in recent days, workers are desperate to defend themselves.

“Any industrial action coming is likely to heavily impact waste collection services, school bus schedules and housing executive maintenance.

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The lead Unite Regional Officer for local authority and education workers in NI, Gareth Scott, said: “Unite is determined to win improved pay for our members. That’s why we have built up a strike fund which is currently sitting at £35 million. Unite full rate of strike pay for eligible members is £70 a day which is there to help avert the worst hardships. Members should be confident of voting yes – in the knowledge that they have the backing of the most powerful trade union on these islands.

“Workers have to get organised and take industrial action to defend themselves and their families from falling into poverty.”

A spokesperson for the EA said: “NJC pay is negotiated nationally by the National Employers for Local Government Services and the EA implements the outcome of these negotiations. A final pay offer was made to Trade Union Side by the National Employers which has now been formally rejected and has led to a ballot for industrial action. EA awaits the outcome of the ballot and remains committed to working with Trade Unions regarding all industrial related matters.”

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said; “Unite the Union formally notified us today that it would be balloting a number of our employees about possible industrial action regarding the ongoing national pay dispute. “Should any industrial action arise, we will seek to ensure that any impact on customer service is minimised.”

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council said it had ‘nothing to say on the matter’.

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said; “Unite the Union formally notified us today that it would be balloting a number of our employees about possible industrial action regarding the ongoing national pay dispute. 

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“Should any industrial action arise, we will seek to ensure that any impact on customer service is minimised.”

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