Unions demand significant increase in Minimum Wage

September 8th: Connect, CWU, FSU, SIPTU and Unite have supported the call by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, in its pre-budget submission, for a significant increase in the minimum wage. In a joint statement, the unions said:  

“The Government has committed to raising the minimum wage to the level of the living wage before the end of its term of office. The Low Pay Commission has stated that the target for a Living Wage is 66% of median earnings which is projected to exceed €15 by the end of the Government’s lifetime.

“One in five workers in Ireland is classified as low-paid. These workers serve our meals, work in our shops, care for our elderly, pack and move our goods, and much more. While other actions are necessary, it is mainly through significant wage increases that a sustainable resolution to the cost-of-living crisis for all workers can be achieved. 

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Council workers striking for a cost of living pay increase at Lisburn and Castlereagh blast unlawful use of agency workers in attempt to undermine industrial action

Unite the union will challenge desperate measures taken by bosses at local government authority who appear determined to avoid paying a cost of living increase to their employees regardless of the legality of their actions

Workers on picket lines at Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council who are engaged in all-out strike action expressed indignation as they heard the news that council bosses had moved to use agency workers to cover work impacted by their industrial action. Their union, Unite, has confirmed that it will proceed to challenge the unlawful status of management’s actions which are an attempt to break a strike by council workers seeking a cost of living pay increase.

Against a backdrop where retail price inflation is already 12.3 percent, management at Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has failed to make any offer to address their workers’ demand for a pay adjustment which protects them and their families from hardship.

General Secretary of Unite, Sharon Graham, challenged council bosses on their unlawful attempt to undermine their employees’ industrial action:

“It is not lawful for any employer to take on agency workers or to reassign existing agency workers to cover work affected by industrial action. Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council is a local government body and it is completely unacceptable for them to act with such disregard for employment law.

“My union will seek all avenues to challenge this unlawful behaviour by council management. This is a shameful attack on their own workforce but it will only redouble the determination of council workers and their union to win a cost of living pay increase.”

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Workers at Causeway Coast and Glens council to commence all-out strike action tomorrow after councils vote down pay increase

Offer of two pay points plus a cash lump sum to end dispute was rejected at last night’s council meeting by a single vote in the chamber

Unite the union has confirmed that its members at Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council will commence continuous strike action at the local authority tomorrow [Thursday 7 September]. The decision by workers followed last night’s vote [September 6th] at full council at which a proposal to settle the strike by offering two pay point increments and a lump sum to workers – similar to that provided in Derry City & Strabane and in Mid-Ulster District Councils – was voted down by a majority of one councillor.

General Secretary of Unite, Sharon Graham, pledged her union’s full support to the striking council workers.

“Employers need to recognise the huge pressures the cost of living crisis is having on employees and their families. The vote by Causeway Coast and Glens councillors demonstrates a total failure to recognise the need to provide council workers with a living income.

“Unite members at Causeway Coast and Glens, at Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon and at Lisburn and Castlereagh can count on the full backing of my union as they seek to defend jobs, pay and conditions.”

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Striking workers at Derry City and Strabane District Council end strike action after winning double pay point increase

Unite the union members vote to accept improved pay offer with 63 percent majority

Workers at Derry City and Strabane District Council have voted with a 63 percent majority to accept an improved offer from management and end their industrial dispute with their employer. Management at the council made a substantially improved pay offer to avoid a return of strike action which had struck council activities earlier in the year. The pay deal includes a one-off payment of £500 and a fully consolidated two pay point increase worth approximately five percent – on top of the wider National Joint Council pay improvement.

Derry City and Strabane now becomes the second council in Northern Ireland, after Mid Ulster District Council, to have resolved the 2021-22 pay dispute with a significantly improved pay offer including a two pay point increase plus cash.

Unite’s General Secretary Sharon Graham congratulated her union’s membership at Derry City and Strabane District Council on a substantial pay win:

“Derry City and Strabane workers have won a considerable pay offer over the bare 1.75 percent pay increase offered nationally. 

“This is now the second council in Northern Ireland where workers have won a decent pay increase through strike action. Unite the union is delivering on our promise to defend the jobs, pay and conditions of our members.”

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Belfast City Council vote for Greenwich Leisure Limited to recognise leisure workforce unions must now be implemented

Leisure staff warn council that failure to recognise representative trade unions will led to ballot on industrial action.

Outsourced leisure services across Belfast are delivered by a two-tier workforce with staff pay the lowest in Northern Ireland, further exposing them to the pain of the cost of living crisis.

Councillors at Belfast City Council yesterday [Thursday, 1 September] voted in support of the formal recognition of representative trade unions at municipal leisure centres. In response, Unite the union, the largest representative union, called on the council to move swiftly to deliver the commitment and ensure that outsourced management company, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), afford basic union recognition to its members.

The union warned that if the vote was not enforced, it would leave its members working in outsourced, council leisure centres with no alternative but to ballot for industrial action.

Since management of municipal leisure centres was handed over to Greenwich Leisure Limited, there have been repeated protests and strikes against threats to workers’ pensions, pay and staffing levels. 

The two-tier workforce in leisure centres includes those newly contracted through inferior GLL-contracts and those retaining council-contracts. Both sets of workers are the lowest paid municipal leisure workers in Northern Ireland.

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