Some workers involved in intensive pay negotiations with Derry City Council management are earning minimum wage or just slightly above, for work which union leaders describe as being essential to the functioning of the city.
A payscale seen by the Derry Journal illustrates that some council litter pickers, leisure attendants and cleaners are on salaries of £12,266.
The figure is significantly below the allowances of newly elected councillors who are set to take their seats on the new Derry Strabane Super Council, with allowances having increased from £9,835 to £14,200 per year.
Liam Gallagher, of UNITE the Union, who has been leading recent negotiations, says union leaders want to see all council staff earning a “living wage.”
“There’s an agreement in place with Belfast City Council that all workers take home a ‘living wage’ as opposed to minimum wage, where workers would have sufficient money to pay rent, put food on the table and perhaps have the prospect of a holiday at home. In 2014, that’s the kind of wage we should be talking about,” he said.
As negoitations continue, The Journal also understands that some workers are unhappy with plans to scrap a practice known as ‘task and finish’ where workers complete the tasks of their working day within an alloted amount of time and then go home. One example of the practice is that it allows refuse collectors to collect bins early in the morning so as not to interfere with rush hour traffic and do their jobs in what workers argue, is a more efficient manner. Union leaders say that some other councils have recognised this as a custom in practice and compensated workers for ending it, but that Derry City Council is refusing to do so.