Absence of any movement from NIHE management on 1.75% offer “galling”.
Unite the union confirmed that it had lodged notification that the four week strike action being taken by its members working in the Northern Ireland Housing Executive will continue for a further four weeks. Housing workers in the union are seeking a pay improvement above the 1.75 percent increase for 2021-22 recommended by the National Joint Council for local authorities employers. Workers are seeking a two pay point uplift and a cost of living payment but as yet the union understands that management have not even sought any additional funding from the Department to settle the pay dispute.
Strike action at the housing executive is resulting an ever extending backlog of improvement work to public housing units. This is impacting social housing tenants who are left without measures to improve energy efficiency or for conversion to better suit those with disabilities.
It has been widely reported in the press that companies performing these tasks for those contracts which have been outsourced have had their fees increased by 20 or even 30 percent – while workers performing the same tasks in-house through the Direct Labour Organisation have been offered a mere 1.75 percent improvement.
Unite is questioning how private companies with outsourced contracts and performing the same work as its members can obtain increases reported to amount to 20 or even 30 percent whereas workers are being offered an insulting 1.75 percent.
General Secretary of Unite, Sharon Graham, offered her continued support to the Housing workers:
“Our housing workers provide vital maintenance and improvement services to social housing tenants. This galling 1.75% offer means they are left with no alternative but to extend their strike action for a pay increase.
“The absence of any movement to address our members’ pay claim and end this dispute from management is a truly shocking failure. Unite is full square behind these workers in their fight for a decent pay increase.”
Unite Regional Organiser Michael Keenan challenged the NIHE Chief Executive on her failure to engage directly with the union and called on the Communities Minister to intervene and end the dispute.
“While our members face the prospect of another four weeks standing on picket lines, social housing tenants are having to suffer as the list of vital work mounts ever higher causing a prolonged delay to the improvements e.g. fitting out units for those with disabilities or improving energy efficiency.
“We are genuinely shocked that NIHE Chief Executive Grania Long has so far not even appeared at any meeting to discuss a resolution to this dispute. Unite is calling on Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey who has overall responsibility for the Housing Executive to intervene. The failure to resolve this dispute is punishing social housing tenants who are being denied the improvements they need. They deserve better and our members are demanding better.
“The Housing Executive has colossal reserves – easily more than enough to afford this increase to its workers. It is time they used th
ose reserves to ensure that workers get the pay their deserve and tenants get the service they expect.”