Northern Ireland Unite members to vote on industrial action alongside council workers in England and Wales

Union urges members to vote yes for 10 per cent after strong rejection of employers’ insulting 1.75 per cent pay offer

Unite today has served notice of a ballot of its members in Northern Ireland’s councils, the Education Authority and Housing Executive on strike action in pursuit of a 10 percent pay increase. The ballot will open on Monday 24 January and remain open for four weeks. 

The disaggregated strike ballot was called after the union rejected an insulting below-inflation 1.75 per cent pay offer for 2020-2021. Workers are seeking a 10 per cent increase to address historic wage erosion as pay deals have fallen ever further behind inflation. With the cost of living surging above seven percent in recent days, workers are desperate to defend themselves.

Any industrial action coming is likely to heavily impact waste collection services, school bus schedules and housing executive maintenance.

The union’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, encouraged Unite members to use their ballots, make a stand for a 10 per cent pay rise, and vote ‘yes’.

“Since last April the cost of living has risen dramatically to more than seven per cent and workers are now confronted with a cost of living catastrophe. The 10 per cent pay claim we tabled for 2020-2021 reflects our members’ desire to win back some of what has been lost with similar below inflation pay deals in recent years. These workers are frontline, essential workers and deserve pay reflecting their commitment throughout the pandemic. It’s time that dedication is reflected in a decent pay reward.”

The lead Unite regional officer for local authority and education workers in Northern Ireland, Gareth Scott, also encouraged his members to vote ‘Yes’ pointing to the union’s £35 million strike fund.

“Unite is determined to win improved pay for our members. That’s why we have built up a strike fund which is currently sitting at £35 million. Unite full rate of strike pay for eligible members is £70 a day which is there to help avert the worst hardships. Members should be confident of voting yes – in the knowledge that they have the backing of the most powerful trade union on these islands.

“We are seeing an unprecedented surge in the cost of living. Workers have to get organised and take industrial action to defend themselves and their families from falling into poverty. Our members working in local councils, for the Education Authority and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive have the power to bring employers to the table and win a 10 per cent increase.”


For further information or an interview with a Regional Officer contact Donal O’Cofaigh, Unite Campaigns & Communications (NI), tel. 07810 157926.