We will continue to oppose public sector cuts

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Sir,

I feel it is incumbent on me as a Trade Unionist to reply to the unsigned letter which attacked me personally in your paper last Friday. The letter writer takes exception with me on a number of issues around my role as a staff representative on the Board of the North West College and my recent criticism of the decision to give the new Chief Executive of Derry City Council an 11% pay increase.

I am the elected staff representative for 207 non teaching staff on the Board of Governors of the NWRC. I did in fact propose the implementation of a contractual incremental rise of one point on the pay scale to senior management in line with current pay structure within the College.

This is in line with all of the Public Sector Union’s position and the ICTU’s position on public sector pay. I did so to ensure that all of the members that I represent will receive their contractual incremental rises.

In 2008 the 16 F.E. Colleges merged into six new regional Colleges and at that time in a joint Protocol and Principles agreement the non teaching unions agreed that any restructuring should be minimised for a two year period to allow staff and students to bed in. It was agreed that this would be reviewed after two years. The NWRC then put out a restructuring consultation document which proposed three options. Unite, the Union, opted to accept option 2 and replied to the consultation recommending that any changes to the curriculum delivery and academic structure should ultimately be a matter for the academic staff and the senior management. We also stated our opposition to any compulsory redundancies and stated that we would work with management to avoid compulsory redundancies.

To equate that position to agreeing to Fat Cat pay is erroneous and mischievous.

‘Wrong message’

The proposal to give an 11% pay rise outside of the Local Government Council pay structure was the wrong message at the wrong time when Council workers were being asked to accept pay freezes for the next three years. I have talked to City Councillors who now accept that the timing was not good and that it sent out the wrong message to low paid workers. Unite, the Union, appreciates the support that we have been given by Sinn Fein and the S.D.L.P. on many issues and have publicly recognised that in the past. However we will continue to oppose public sector cuts and will continue to challenge our local politicians to support that position.

Liam Gallagher

Chairperson Unite the Union and Secretary Derry Trades Union Council