April 24th: Shop stewards representing workers in local councils across Northern Ireland gathered at the Malone Lodge Hotel in Belfast (Today -Thursday 24th) to commence a campaign to secure a pay increase from their Council employers.
Unite UK National Officer, Fiona Farmer, gave a presentation highlighting the case for the pay increase and indicated that Unite members in the Britain were likely to overwhelmingly vote down the 1% pay offer made by employers.
Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, addressed the meeting to offer the union’s support for action in Northern Ireland to address the issue of low pay in the sector:
“Workers for local councils are among the lowest paid in the public sector. Our members have endured four years of below inflation pay increases resulting in a real income decline of 18% over the period as the cost of living has soared. This is unacceptable.
“The UK economy and that of Northern Ireland is now expanding and it is only fair that our members see a significant improvement in their pay-packets.
“Our campaign will ensure that no-one working in the public sector receives less than a Living Wage of £7.65 an hour but will also benefit those earning more than this threshold. We need our local authorities to become Living Wage Employers and lead the economy away from the race to the bottom economics which is only reducing consumption levels and shackling wider economic growth.
“Unite is strongly represented among the waste collection and street cleansing workforce. The public know that these are not easy jobs and these workers deserve a decent pay rate. We anticipate that the wider public will support our campaign for a pay increase.
“We will be balloting our members on the existing pay offer and should this be rejected, we will proceed to ballot for industrial action for our pay-claim commencing in July”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.