‘Poor pay offer’ blamed as Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council workers to start strike on Monday

Disruption to services across the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council area is expected on Monday as workers are set to strike.

The planned strike action had been postponed so that both the Council and representatives of three unions, Unite, GMB and NIPSA could attend mediation with the Labour Relations Agency.

However talks broke down yesterday with unions confirming that workers are due to begin industrial action on Monday.

The three unions represent staff across many departments of the council, from refuse collection to street cleaning, from leisure services to parks, from secretarial to planning staff.

Craigavon Civic Centre in Craigavon, home of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council. Photo courtesy of Google.

A strike may impact bin collections, weddings, street cleaning, planning applications, leisure centres, park openings and community hubs.

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Civic Centre

What the unions said

A spokesperson for the GMB union confirmed that council workers will begin a strike at 6am on Monday August 15.

A spokesperson said: “In the worst cost of living crisis for decades, working people at the council are asking for a decent pay rise.”

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Alan Perry, GMB regional organiser, said: “Council workers deserve fair pay in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis for decades.

“It isn’t right that senior management at the council are taking huge pay packets as working people are struggling.

“These are key workers, many of whom were on the front line during the pandemic. The least they deserve is decent pay.”

What the Council said

Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council said it had been given ‘Notice of Industrial Action’.

A spokesperson said: “It is with regret, we must inform residents and businesses across the borough, that the three Trade Unions; NIPSA, GMB, and Unite the Union have issued Council with notification of strike action commencing Monday 15 August.

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“Council is disappointed that despite providing an enhanced offer to staff, this has been rejected by the Trade Unions. The offer included:

▶️ An organisational wide pay and grading review

▶️ Reinforcing commitment to addressing issues of assimilating staff to new structures

▶️ An offer of £1,400 to all staff, spread across two £700 payments, in 2022/23, equating to a £2.3 million additional payment to staff

▶️ Awarding of the national pay award for £1,925 per year going forward for all staff.

“We regret the inconvenience this will cause and we will endeavour to keep you informed of service and facility updates in due course.”

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Political reaction

Sinn Féin council group leader Councillor Liam Mackle said: “I am disappointed at the breakdown in negotiations between Council and the three trade unions that represent the vast majority of staff in Council. We would encourage continued dialogue even at this late stage to try and avoid a very damaging strike.

“From our party’s perspective we have been working hard to ensure that any settlement is fair to our hard working staff and our ratepayers.

“The cost of living crisis is impacting everyone and many staff on low wages are particularly badly effected. Workers and families need supported at this time and we will do everything we can to deliver for them.”