• Council management has been notified of a four-week strike commencing 18 July and ending 14 August
  • Latest pay offer provided no additional consolidated pay increase, leaving workers unprotected from surging inflation

Unite has notified bosses at Derry City & Strabane district council of a further four weeks of strike action. This industrial action follows two previous strikes by workers at local councils, the Education Authority and the Housing Executive. Workers are demanding a pay increase which will protect them from the current cost of living crisis.

The dispute is in respect of pay following an inadequate national pay deal which offers workers a bare 1.75 per cent increase, an offer which was rejected by Unite members as inflation is currently surging at 11.7 per cent.

The latest pay offer from management at Derry City & Strabane district council came after a second strike action by workers at the local authority. Workers suspended their action to allow space for further negotiations, however management merely offered a non-consolidated, one-off payment. While this would help meet immediate challenges, it would have left workers with no protection for inflation into the future

Unite is warning that the strike at Derry City & Strabane is likely to be followed by similar at other local authorities; indeed other trade unions are now balloting on industrial action at a number of councils.

General secretary of Unite Sharon Graham offered workers at Derry City & Strabane her full support: “The local authority workers in Derry City & Strabane district council are determined to win a pay improvement that protects them and their families from the surge in the cost of living. Management needs to recognise that a non-consolidated one-off payment does nothing to protect workers into the future.

“These are essential and frontline workers who throughout the lockdown have worked to deliver the services the local community need. So they deserve to receive a cost of living improvement that reflects price rises.”

Lead regional officer for local authorities in Northern Ireland Gareth Scott highlighted the impact the four-week strike would have on services at Derry City & Strabane District Council: “This strike will paralyse the council. Unite has particular concentrations among waste workers who continued to work throughout the lockdown – they expect basic respect and that means a proper consolidated improvement.”

Unite is warning that the strike at Derry City & Strabane is likely to be followed by others at other councils where a similar pay offer has been made. Two of Northern Ireland’s eleven councils have now made offers which include a consolidated pay improvement element confirming that this is a possibility across the board.

“Unite members at two other councils are considering offers which include an increase to pay grades and therefore provide a consolidated improvement over the bare 1.75 per cent offered nationally. While members in those councils have to decide whether these offers go far enough to offer real pay protection, the remaining councils must now make improved pay offers including measures on basic pay.” concluded Mr Scott.