Derry Council workers, unions and staff commended for strike resolution

Workers, trade unions, elected representatives and senior management at Derry City and Strabane council were commended by Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson for finding a resolution to the recent industrial action.

However, People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin warned this was ‘not a full resolution’ as the increase was not above inflation. He added it was the workers who should be commended and it wasn’t ‘the time to be patting councillors’ backs’.

Striking council workers ended their strike action after a 63% majority voted to accept an improved offer from management which resulted in the end of the industrial dispute.

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According to the union, the pay deal included a one-off payment of £500 and a fully consolidated two pay point increase worth approximately 5% on top of the wider National Joint Council pay improvement.

Council workers striking previously.

Councillor Jackson raised the matter at the September meeting of full council saying: “Mayor, we have seen over recent months how industrial action has affected our council and I would like to take this opportunity to commend the efforts of all the elected members, the trade unions and senior management team of our council.

“We demonstrated that we could come together to find a resolution to avoid the prolonged period of strike action and we have seen the impact that is having in other areas.

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“We’ve said many times in this virtual chamber that our biggest asset as a council are those who work day in, day out providing services to the people of this city and district and I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the party to thank everybody who was involved in finding a resolution.”

Councillor Shaun Harkin’s praise was saved for the trade unions at council as he commended them for ‘taking the difficult decision to go on strike’ during a cost of living crisis.

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Councillor Christopher Jackson.

He said: “I don’t think this is a full resolution because the pay increase that council workers will receive is not above inflation, it does not meet the needs of the vast majority of council members.

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“The trade union members I spoke to don’t see this as a resolution but as a platform to continue the fight to restore the pay they lost over the last 20 years and indeed to try and win above inflation pay increases in the coming years. I think many members reluctantly accepted this as the best they could get right now.”

The Foyleside elected representative warned of more strike action across society with a ‘massive cost of living fight happening’.

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“There is going to be disruption,” Colr. Harkin added. “There is going to be an escalation of strikes and it’s unfortunate, in other council areas those strikes have been escalated.

Councillor Shaun Harkin.
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“In regards to thanking everyone, I know there was very difficult work done by our management team and there was probably a lot of stress and strain.

“It’s really about the determination of the workers and that’s who we should be commending. This isn’t the time to be patting councillors’ backs.”

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Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter