Month long council worker strike in Derry to ‘paralyse’ services

Derry City & Strabane District Council workers will launch a month of strike action next Monday bar an 11th hour deal on pay and terms.

UNITE has given DC&SDC notice that its members will be resuming industrial action over what it views as an inadequate pay offer next week.

A DC&SDC spokesperson confirmed formal notification has been received in relation to the discontinuous strike action that will commence Monday, July 18, 2022 and continue up to Sunday, August 14, 2022.

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The strike is in relation to a trade dispute over the 2021/2022 National Pay Award. In March local council workers staged a walk-out after rejecting a pay offer from local government employers in England, Wales and NI of 1.75% for the year 2021-22.

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

DC&SDC expects the strike action to cause ‘considerable disruption to a range of its services throughout this period’. However, it said it is currently involved in ‘continuous and meaningful negotiations with the unions to find a resolution to this dispute and Council remains firmly committed to continuing with this process to reach a positive and agreed outcome’.

UNITE claimed the latest pay offer provided no additional consolidated pay increase - i.e. a permanent rise - leaving workers unprotected from inflation.

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Lead regional officer for local authorities Gareth Scott highlighted the impact the four-week strike would have: “This strike will paralyse the council. UNITE has particular concentrations [union membership] among waste workers who continued to work throughout the lockdown – they expect basic respect and that means a proper consolidated improvement.”

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IN PICTURES: Unite strike action outside Strand Rd Council offices, Derry today
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General Secretary of Unite, Sharon Graham, offered workers her full support.

“The local authority workers in Derry City & Strabane District Council are determined to win a pay improvement that protects them and their families from the surge in the cost of living. Management needs to recognise that a non-consolidated one-off payment does nothing to protect workers into the future.

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“These are essential and frontline workers who throughout the lockdown have worked to deliver the services the local community need. So they deserve to receive a cost of living improvement that reflects price rises.”

UNITE is warning that the strike is likely to be followed by others at other councils where a similar pay offer has been made.

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The trade union stated that two of the north’s eleven councils have now made offers which include a consolidated pay improvement element ‘confirming that this is a possibility across the board’.

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Mr. Scott said: “UNITE members at two other councils are considering offers which include an increase to pay grades and therefore provide a consolidated improvement over the bare 1.75 percent offered nationally.

“While members in those councils have to decide whether these offers go far enough to offer real pay protection, the remaining councils must now make improved pay offers including measures on basic pay.”

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UNITE has pointed out that the pay offer on the table is far below inflation which is currently surging at 11.7 percent.

The range and extent of the proposed industrial action has yet to be decided upon by the trade union strike committee, however, it is expected to be far-ranging.

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