Frustration mounting over workers’ back pay

The current Derry City Council logo.
The current Derry City Council logo.

Derry City Council workers may take action in the New Year amid frustration that some have yet to receive a penny from four years of back pay owed to them.

Derry City Council workers may take action in the New Year amid frustration that some have yet to receive a penny from four years of back payments owed to them.

Dozens of workers were yesterday said to be growing increasingly anxious that they have not received the first of two expected lump payments in time for the festive season.

Liam Gallagher, chairman of the local branch of UNITE, said there was “frustration” that many were still waiting on their payment, resulting in a vote to take action if an acceptable plan is not now put forward by the council to address the matter.

The workers were deemed owed the money- which it is understood runs into thousands of pounds for each of them- after an appeal process on job evaluations resulted in the vast majority being put on a higher pay grade, and awarded the differential in wages for the previous four years.

The move stemmed from the process of evaluating workers under the Single Status Agreement between Derry City Council and trade unions in the city in August.

This agreement was designed to streamline differing pay scales into one, with the intention of assuring equal pay for all workers at a certain level.

In all, 70% of the over 200 UNITE union members who appealed against their job evaluation in Derry were successful, meaning they have been moved to a new pay band and are to receive the back pay.

The total sum of money owed to the UNITE members is expected to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Refuse collectors, park wardens, grave diggers and leisure centre workers were among those who mounted successful challenges through UNITE.

It is understood that some of the workers involved would have been on little more than the minimum wage but for the change in their employment status.

Mr Gallagher said: “Every worker had the right to appeal the decision and we were able to win 70% of the appeal cases.

“UNITE are very, very pleased with the outcome of the appeals and we have said to the council that understandably there is anxiety over the retrospective payments and we would like to see that expedited as soon as possible.

“A number have received half of their back money before Christmas but a number haven’t. Some of the workers are getting very frustrated and they have had a vote to take action if the council doesn’t come up with a plan to get them their money.”

A spokeswoman for Derry City Council responded last night: “Following the agreement reached on Single Status in August 2014, the implementation of relevant payments has been a key priority for Council.

“A phased introduction of payments has been agreed with Trade Unions with initial payments commencing in November. This will continue until all employees have received any relevant payment in early 2015.”

It is understood around 200 other council workers, largely involved in administration work and who are NIPSA union members, will also be going through the job evaluation appeal process in the coming months.