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Strike action imminent after NIPSA ballot over plans to close electoral offices

Staff at Banbridge electoral office have joined their colleagues across Northern Ireland in endorsing industrial action amid plans to axe all six regional centre.

NIPSA members have voted decisively in a recent ballot to take industrial action including “strike action and action short of strike action”.

The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland has proposed to close all six regional electoral offices in Ballymena, Banbridge, Derry/Londonderry, Newtownabbey, Newtownards and Omagh and centralise services to Belfast.

NIPSA has campaigned against these proposals and has received support from all political parties.

Many newly elected MLAs offered their support to staff in regional electoral offices in their acceptance speech at recent NI Assembly elections.

Speaking on the result of the ballot, Dooley Harte, NIPSA HQ Official, said: Members in regional electoral offices have given resounding support for industrial action including strike action through our recent ballot.  Almost 92% of those balloted supported strike action with 100% supporting action short of strike action.”

Mr Harte confirmed that NIPSA representatives had met last week with representatives of the Electoral Office and Northern Ireland Office to try and resolve the current difficulties but that meeting ended without a resolution.

He added: “While the meeting convened by Labour Relations Agency had made some progress, there was still a gulf between us on our demands.”

NIPSA has asked that additional funding is provided and building leases are extended to September 30, 2017 to allow for a joint working group to introduce and assess the impact of new admin systems and online registration technology, as well as carry out a full review of regional services looking at accommodation, structures and roles and responsibilities.

Mr Harte stated that these proposals were “not accepted by management”.

The union official added: “Members have given a clear and unambiguous statement to management that they are prepared to take strike action to protect jobs and services in rural areas.

“NIPSA will now be engaging members in the range of options available to them, up to and including strike action.”

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