Antrim and Newtownabbey Council decision on pay deferred until December

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has asked for “more time” to consider a counter offer from Joint Trade Unions which was brought to the council’s monthly meeting on Monday evening.

Discussions took place behind closed doors before a decision was deferred until next month’s meeting of the local authority.

The council says this will “allow for further negotiations to be undertaken which we are hopeful will provide a resolution to the pay issues and provide the best outcome for both our staff and our residents”.

A spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said: “Following further meaningful negotiations with trade unions, a counter offer was received from Joint Trade Unions (JTUs) on Tuesday, 22 November 2022 which was presented to the council on 28 November 2022 for consideration.

Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey

“Whilst the counter proposal was positively received by the council, given the additional recurrent cost in future years, the council requires more time to consider this within the context of our financial position.

“This will be discussed at a meeting on Friday, 2 December, 2022 with consideration deferred to the council meeting on 19 December 2022. This will allow for further negotiations to be undertaken which we are hopeful will provide a resolution to the pay issues and provide the best outcome for both our staff and our residents.”

Trade union negotiations with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council have been continuing after councillors failed to accept a formal offer last month.

It was proposed by SDLP Antrim Councillor Roisin Lynch and seconded by Glengormley Sinn Fein Cllr Michael Goodman that the formal union offer dated October 19 be accepted.

However, Glengormley Ulster Unionist Alderman Mark Cosgrove proposed an amendment to the proposal seconded by Macedon Alliance Councillor Billy Webb MBE that council officers enter re-negotiations with trade union members.

Twenty-eight members voted in favour with eight against further negotiations.

In August, the council approved a formal offer in settlement of the ongoing trade dispute with Unite the Union. This formal offer was subsequently taken to union members for ballot in September 2022 however, the offer was rejected.

A pay dispute has taken place at nine of the 11 local councils in Northern Ireland over the 2021-2022 NJC pay award.

The dispute caused disruption to leisure services in Antrim and Newtownabbey including the closure of swimming pools and spas earlier this year.

In April, the council approved the Real Living Wage to be paid to all staff via a supplement and that “engagement take place to resolve associated pay point issues”. The anticipated cost to council was not disclosed.

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