Derry services to be impacted as strike action to resume over next fortnight

Bin collections, recycling centres, and some school services look set to be stalled or severely impacted over the next fortnight as workers in Derry, Strabane and elsewhere resume industrial action.

Unite members from Derry & Strabane Council, the Education Authority and the Housing Executive have confirmed their intention to strike from next Monday, April 25 through to Sunday, May 1 and again from Tuesday, May 3 to Sunday, May 8.

While the Council was still assessing the potential impact yesterday, it looks likely that many local services will be disrupted as happened during the previous week and day of action when bin collection, street cleansing and other services were halted and recycling centres closed. Housing Executive maintenance and some school services including at NWRC, Lumen Christi and St Columb’s College are also expected to be impacted.

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A Derry & Strabane Council spokesperson confirmed that formal notification from Unite has been received over its planned action. “The Council fully respects the right of staff to take industrial action following an official ballot,” a spokesperson said, adding: “Council expects there to be considerable disruption to a range of our services throughout this period.”

Council employees and trade unionists picket Derry City Council Offices on Strand Road as part of the previous industrial action take over better pay demand. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2212GS – 012

Unite said the action follows the ‘failure of employers to provide an improved pay offer’ since the last offer tabled under the National Joint Council ‘amounts to 1.75%, while the rate of inflation impacting workers’ living standard is 9%’.

Regional Officer for Unite, Gareth Scott laid the blame for the continued strike action at the feet of employers: “These workers took a powerful first week of strike action only a matter of weeks ago. They also gathered in large numbers at Stormont to highlight their determination to defend themselves from the cost of living crisis.

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“These employers need to address the pay expectations of their workforce. Their failure to do so to date has led to this escalation and the unnecessary disruption that will inevitably result.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham offered her union’s support to the workers taking further strike action in Northern Ireland saying: “The offer of 1.75 percent is completely unacceptable – it’s a huge wage cut. All workers have a right to expect pay to keep pace with inflationary pressures and it’s appalling that public sector workers face a choice of heating or eating.

Council employees and trade unionists picket Derry City Council Offices on Strand Road as part of the previous industrial action take over better pay demand. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2212GS – 012

“Workers out on pickets in Northern Ireland are demonstrating their determination to secure real improvements. They have my complete support and that of everyone in Unite.”

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The Education Authority in Northern Ireland said additional disruption is expected due to the strike action.

“Disruption is anticipated to impact a number of EA home to school transport (yellow bus) services, some school meal services and the availability of some non-teaching staff, particularly in Special Schools.”

This strike action is in relation to a national pay offer for Local Government staff working in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which the EA said has been accepted by the majority of Trade Unions and is in the process of being paid to staff.

Meanwhile Translink, GMB and Unite has confirmed a planned a week-long strike from Monday which would have shut down all Translink Metro and other routine bus services in the north has been postponed.

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A Translink spokesperson said: “We have an agreement to defer the planned strike action while the bus drivers are balloted on a revised pay offer following further negotiations. We welcome this positive step and thank the Unions for their commitment to working together in an effort to build back public transport as a sustainable and better future for all.”

The spokesperson for Derry City & Strabane District Council meanwhile advised: “Information in relation to the strike action will be updated when it is available on the Council website at www.derrystrabane.com/strike-action.”