Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council could face a “shutdown on a scale not seen before” as strike action over pay and conditions looms large.
Three trade unions – GMB, Unite and NIPSA – with Council, attempted to thrash out a deal on Tuesday.
Council offered to give its employees, both full and part time, two one-off £600 payments over the next six months, however, that offer was labelled “insulting”.
NIPSA representative Kevin Kelly, speaking to the News Letter, said: “You would, presumably, have to pay taxes on that £600. That wouldn’t even get you half a tank of oil.”
Alan Perry, from the GMB trade union, also told the News Letter: “The offer was insulting. We had a 91% vote in favour of strike, and 95% for action short of strike, so a massive, massive mandate. You are looking at a shutdown on a scale that this council has not seen before, or any council in this recent wave of industrial action.”
A spokesperson for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council said: “Over the past number of months Management and Trade Unions have been engaging with the aim of progressing a number of matters that are important to everyone, these include moving forward with the filling of structures and the assimilation process and taking steps to assist in addressing the cost of living challenges currently facing our staff and the people, communities and businesses we serve in the Borough.
“A meeting between Council Management and Joint Trade Unions took place yesterday morning (Tuesday).
“Mindful of the significant financial impact of the national pay award on the Council, yet still wishing to address the immediate cost of living pressures being faced by staff, the council offered two £600 payments, the first to be made in September 2022, with the second payment to be made in December 2022/January 2023.
“This £1,200 offer was to all full and part time employees in council (pro rata), a one-off payment from council reserves of over £2million, designed to meet current financial challenges for staff whilst minimising additional burden on the ratepayer.
“When taken together with the national pay award this would have meant over £3,000 in additional payments to each member of staff this year.
“In percentage terms this would represent an in year 17% improvement for a scale 1 employee and a 12.4% betterment for a scale 5 employee.
“Unfortunately this offer has been rejected by Joint Trade Unions, however Council will reconvene discussions early next week.”
GMB and NIPSA members balloted in favour of strike action on Tuesday while Unite has been engaged in a continuous industrial dispute with all 11 local councils in Northern Ireland.
Notice of the strike action is now set to be given by all three councils today, meaning strike action could take place as early as next Wednesday, August 10.