Notion of Civil Service cushy, well paid jobs a total myth - NIPSA

The vast majority of civil servants earn less than the average wage in Northern Ireland, NIPSA Deputy General Secretary Carmel Gates has said.

The vast majority of civil servants earn less than the average wage in Northern Ireland, NIPSA Deputy General Secretary Carmel Gates has said.

Addressing representatives from among the striking workforce at the City Hotel on Friday, she warned that the well rehearsed myths around civil servants having dream jobs and benefits was just that - a myth.

“This notion that civil servants have these cushy jobs, where they don’t have to do too much and they drink tea all day and they have gold plated pensions and they can retire early with loads of money, loads of holidays doesn’t exist, if it ever existed.

“What we have now are civil servants who rely on tax credits, who rely on second jobs, credit cards to bring them to the end of the month, overdraft and so on.

“We have civil servants who use food banks , who tell me they are in hand me down clothes, that their children have never have a holidays, and this is the norm now.”

Carmel Gates said the union representatives gathered should see themselves from now on as the Derry Strike Committee and urged them to “set the city on fire” over the burning injustices the workers were enduring.

She said that she knew from talking to them that none of the striking workforce could afford to be losing a day’s pay on Friday, but that these issues were so important to them and to their futures that they felt they had no other option.

In terms of employment terms and conditions, promotion prospects were being eroded and more work piled on, she claimed.

“We have to say: ‘no, enough is enough, no more, you can’t keep piling the work on us, you can’t keep giving us more responsibility and at the same time tell us we are not even worth a decent pay increase’.”

She said many of those gathered were worse off in comparative terms than they were two decades ago.

“This is not going to be one day of action,” she vowed.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE:

Responding to the strike action, a Department of Finance (DoF) spokesperson said: “Following extensive negotiations with Trade Unions on the 2018 pay award they rejected the pay offer made. Steps have therefore been taken to implement the 2018 pay award. This will be paid to staff on 29 July.

“DoF believes the pay award is fair in the context of the challenging financial environment the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) is operating in with finite resources available and increasing pressures. The pay award to non-industrial civil servants is worth 2.05% of NICS pay bill with the cost of this award being around £16.4 million. DoF is keen to tackle low pay in the NICS and so the pay award includes a larger increase of 3% at Administrative Assistant and analogous grades, with all others receiving a 1.25% uplift as well as any progression payment due.

“The NICS is seeking to ensure essential services continue to be delivered during the planned industrial action which is being taken by NIPSA from 26th July.”