Workers consider industrial action

A section of the attendees at the recent meeting to discuss the cuts to the Supporting People projects, pay and working conditions.
A section of the attendees at the recent meeting to discuss the cuts to the Supporting People projects, pay and working conditions.

Unison representatives and those working with vulnerable people with housing needs are planning to petition councillors to support the campaign to have cuts reversed.

A motion on the matter is to be tabled before Derry & Strabane Council, with a protest planned outside next Thursday’s full council meeting. Strike action by staff working in services funded by Supporting People is also being considered.

Workers have expressed anger than no local politicians turned up to a recent meeting to discuss the cuts, despite invites being issued by Unison.

Niall McCarroll from Unison said: “There is a significant degree of anger over this issue. For every £1 spent on Supporting People it saves the public purse £1.90.

“All those services in Derry are crisis intervention centres, within their own specific field of support, and if they are talking about setting up a Crisis Intervention Centre here they need to be talking first about providing proper funding for the existing services that are there already and the workers that work in them.

“People are fed up with the fact that even within organisations there is massive wage inequality. Some of the people at the top of these organisations are getting six figure salaries and in the same organisation people are getting minimum wage.”

Shaun Harkin, Unison branch officer, said: “Some people have had 10-12 year freezes on their wages which is shocking. We want the 5 per cent cut reversed. When you compare this to Invest NI where their budget is being protected, that’s tell you so much about the priorities. Desperately needed services are being cut when people are acknowledging there is more mental health issues, more poverty, more young people contemplating suicide, and that is going to lead to more of those problems.”