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Black bin collections being ‘prioritised’ in Mid and East Antrim during strike

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council says that it will “endeavour to prioritise” black bin collections during strike action by Unite the Union members this week.

However, the council has admitted that it does “anticipate significant disruption to service”.

Other services to be prioritised in the borough are assisted lifts and larger capacity collections.

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The council says: “From 21  to 25 March inclusive if your bin is not collected before the end of the day its due to be lifted (4.30pm) please bring it in and present it on the next collection day.

Black bins

“We understand this will cause additional waste issues for some householders. If you feel you cannot wait until your next collection day for black or blue bins please contact our helpdesk and we will do our best to assist.

“Unfortunately, mop up collections will not take place during the industrial action and will commence 28 March at the earliest.”

The council has also said:  “The majority of services expected to operate as normal, except for bin collections, street cleansing, recycling centres and leisure centres which are likely to be impacted most.”

There will be no swimming available at Larne Leisure Centre this week.

Swimming pools will be closed and there will be no swimming lessons in Antrim and Newtownabbey this week due to industrial action.  Spas will also be closed.

At Antrim Forum, Sixmile and Valley Leisure Centres opening hours will be reduced.

The industrial action is not anticipated to affect Allen Park, Ballyearl Arts and Leisure Centre and Crumlin Leisure Centre.

Bin collections, household recycling centres and all other services are expected to operate as normal in Antrim and Newtownabbey.

Unite the Union says that the strike is “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 11 local councils in Northern Ireland, the Education Authority (EA), 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 action follows “an overwhelming” vote to reject a pay offer of 1.75 percent for the year 2021-22.

The union is seeking locally-agreed improvements through raising pay grades, reduced working hours, more paid holidays and other benefits.

Unite says: “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 percent over the period.”

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “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 per cent 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.”

The Education Authority says: “Industrial action by Unite the Union is planned from Monday, 21st March, 2022 until Sunday, 27th March, 2022 and will impact some education and youth services.

“We are working hard with schools, youth services and our partners to minimise the impact on children and young people as a result of the industrial action.

“Whilst the majority of schools, youth and other EA services are expected to operate as normal or with minimal disruption, it is likely that the strike action will have an impact on some transport, school meals and cleaning services.

“It is also anticipated that there could be disruption to a number of special schools, particularly in the greater Belfast area, as regular transport for children may not be available, and there may also be a number of classroom assistants taking part in Unite’s industrial action.

“In some cases, particularly at the start of the week, services may be disrupted at such short notice that advance notification will not be possible, so considering alternative arrangements now is very important, particularly in relation to transport and school meals.”

The EA says it is expecting disruption to EA (yellow) bus services will be “localised”but it is anticipating particular disruption to services operating in the greater Belfast and Enniskillen areas, as well as Antrim and Newtownabbey, and Mid and East Antrim Council areas from March 21 to 25.

“We’re working hard to minimise disruption, however, there is extremely limited capacity to provide cover and so parents, particularly in these areas, are therefore advised to have alternative transport arrangements in place for these dates,” the EA advised

“Translink services and private hire bus and taxi services will not be directly impacted by this action. There may be some disruption to the availability of meals in some schools especially in the greater Belfast, Lisburn and Dundonald areas.

“The EA Youth Service is working to mitigate the impact of the strike action, ensuring that youth centres remain open with programmes continuing to be delivered.”

The Housing Executive says that it is expecting some disruption to its repairs services this week.  Affected areas may include Craigavon, Coleraine, north and west Belfast.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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Strike has potential to disrupt key services, says Mid and East Antrim Council