NI Local Authorities: stop misleading the public and use your powers to provide real pay improvement

As Unite members in councils, education and housing across Northern Ireland continue strike action, the union has hit out at the misinformation from the employers. 

The workers are on strike in pursuit of a pay increase to recover earnings lost through over a decade of attacks on wages and to help combat the harm to earnings caused by surging inflation.

The union is challenging the National Joint-Council (NJC) employers to stop the disinformation and own up to the powers that they do have to end the dispute by improving workers’ pay. 

Unite says that, despite their constant claims to the contrary, the employers can develop local formulas that would allow an offer above the present 1.75 percent, which is way below the current real rate of inflation (RPI) of nine per cent.  Most other pay and conditions – such as overtime and public holidays – can be set locally giving scope for councils to move. 

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Education Authority challenged by Unite to end ‘poverty pay’ as strike action recommences

As education workers return to picket-lines this morning, Unite the union called on the Education Authority to engage in talks to end poverty pay in Northern Ireland’s school services.

The union emphasized that, despite Education Authority’s claims its hands are tied, it does have the power to make education workers an increase that betters the proposed 1.75 percent, which Unite says is a pay cut as real inflation (the RPI) runs at nine percent and is set to rise further.

Unite made the call after a revised offer from Translink saw bus drivers deferring their strike action.  However, the absence of any potential solution from EA management has left education workers including school bus drivers with no alternative but to proceed with planned strike action today.

Unite members working in education roles such as cleaning, catering, classroom staff, youth service and transport are paid at rates far below the average earned by their equivalents in the private sector. School bus drivers, who are charged with the safe transport of both mainstream and Special Education Needs children, are only paid an hourly rate of just £9.86, just 36 pence above the national minimum hourly rate.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham challenged the EA employers: “This is no pay offer – it is a pay cut at a time of rising living costs. It is totally unjustifiable and despite the Education Authority’s claims to the contrary, it absolutely does have the power to give education workers an increase that betters the current 1.75 percent. It should act responsibly and do so.

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Hospitality: Unite meets with Tanaiste’s officials to discuss service charges

Service charges must go to those providing the service

“Unclear policy is usually unfair” says Unite General Secretary

April 24th: Unite, which represents hospitality workers throughout Ireland, recently met with officials in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to discuss the union’s outstanding concerns regarding the Payment of Wages (Tips and Gratuities) (Amendment) Bill 2022. 

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “Where tips policy is unclear it usually means it is also unfair, and it hits this workforce hard in the wallet.  We estimate that hospitality staff lose thousands a year in lost earnings when their tips go elsewhere.

“Unite is determined to change this appalling state of affairs.  It’s time for the Irish government and the hospitality sector to step up too”.

Unite Hospitality Coordinator Julia Marciniak attended the meeting and said:

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Strike action by bus drivers at Translink deferred after employers make revised pay offer

Unions representing bus drivers working for Ulsterbus and Metro services, Unite the union and the GMB,  announced the deferral of planned strike action due to commence this coming Monday [April 25] after negotiations led to a revised pay offer from employers. Bus drivers will now be balloted on the new pay offer.

Unite the union deputy Regional Secretary Davy Thompson welcomed the move by Translink employers:

“The strike action planned by both Unite and GMB bus drivers would have resulted in the cancellation of all bus services across Northern Ireland from next Monday. Ahead of that eventuality the unions and employers engaged in direct negotiations on the issue of pay.”

Peter Macklin, GMB Regional Organiser said:

“As a result of those talks and the revised offer made by the employers, workplace representatives in both unions have decided to defer next week’s planned action and ballot the members. We will make public the results of that process as they become known.”

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Unite confirms further dates for strike action for pay increase by council, education and housing workers in Northern Ireland

Strike action set to continue over a two week period spanning end of April and early May

Following on from strike action taken by Unite members at Councils, the Education Authority, NI Housing Executive, Further Education colleges, Schools and youth service, the union has now confirmed a timetable of further strike action. This will take the form of a discontinuous strike in the last week of April and early May.

The strike follows the failure of employers to provide an improved pay offer to workers. The increase offered under the National Joint Council amounts to 1.75 percent. The current rate of inflation impacting workers’ living standard is nine percent.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham offered her union’s support to the workers taking further strike action in Northern Ireland saying: “The offer of 1.75 percent is completely unacceptable – it’s a huge wage cut.  All workers have a right to expect pay to keep pace with inflationary pressures and it’s appalling that public sector workers face a choice of heating or eating.

“Workers out on pickets in Northern Ireland are demonstrating their determination to secure real improvements. They have my complete support and that of everyone in Unite.”

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