City braced for massive strike

Liam Gallagher from Unite union.
Liam Gallagher from Unite union.

Public services could grind to a halt in Derry next week as thousands of local workers prepare to stage one of the biggest ever strikes witnessed here.

Everyone from bin collectors, leisure centre and library workers to grave diggers and Housing Executive employees are expected to take part in the general strike this Thursday,.

Unionised teaching staff in the north are due to follow suit in two further days of industrial action in September.

Unite, GMB, NIPSA and Unison are among the major players whose members will use their combined strength on Thursday to express their anger at the 1% pay increase offered to them by government.

The Derry strike will form part of a wider day of action across the north, as well as in England and Wales.

Unite members became the latest unionised force to ballot in favour of the industrial action, it emerged at their bi-annual policy conference in Liverpool this week.

Speaking from there, Unite’s Derry chairman Liam Gallagher told the Journal that the action had been decided upon because in real terms public sector workers had been forced to undergo a 13% cut in pay over the past few years.

“Over the period of time people have basically decided that they have had enough,” Mr Gallagher said.

“Never before has there been a greater number of working poor, people having to claim benefits to make ends meet, and it is the people at the very bottom of the tree that are suffering most from the austerity.”

He added: “This is about decency and justice and trying to get people at the bottom rung of the ladder a better deal. We are determined we are not going to accept 1%.”

Mr Gallagher and local GMB regional organiser Michael Mulholland said that those services deemed essential such as grave diggers would ensure arrangements are put in place to cover work deemed a necessity.

Speaking about the need for industrial action, Mr Mulholland said: “We have to make a stand. The government are quite good at putting the spin out about public sector workers in receipt of great packages, pay and pensions but that they are doing is looking to make people work far, far longer for far, far less.”

A spokeswoman for Derry City Council confirmed that it had been formally been notified by trade unions of industrial action as a result of on going dispute in relation to 2014 pay negotiations.

She said: “This industrial action will take the form of a one day strike on 10th July 2014. Derry City Council will operate and provide as normal as service as possible on that day and will endeavour to ensure that any disruption is kept to a minimum.

“Any impacted services will be regularly updated via”