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Crucial vote to end ‘disastrous’ six-week strike action to take place tonight

Armagh station Road recycling centre rubbish bins

A crucial vote will take place tonight (Tuesday) that could help signal the end of industrial action across the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon borough immediately.

A special meeting of Council will take place at the Craigavon Civic Centre and should councillors be in agreement – or at least a majority – the strike will likely come to an end, allowing for the collection of household rubbish and re-opening of amenity sites.

It is understood members must still be balloted on any potential agreement tonight but that is expected to be a formality.

Sinn Féin councillor and group leader on ABC Council, Liam Mackle, has said all political parties must unite behind the pay deal.

Speaking in advance of tonight’s meeting, he said: “[Tonight] is an important night. A crucial vote will take place which could result in a pay deal fair to both the worker and the ratepayer.

“If agreed it will bring the strike to an immediate end.

“I would therefore urge all political parties to get behind this deal which was negotiated between council management and the unions toward the end of last week.

“The last six weeks have been a disaster for the ratepayer, for industrial relations and for our Borough.

“It is vital that this deal receives the support of all political parties. It is only then that the strike can end to allow our focus to shift to recovery.”

The SDLP’s party group leader, Thomas O’Hanlon, said it was now down to political parties to decide whether the strike will end.

“I can’t speak for other parties, but the SDLP Group have considered the papers before us and believe it is the best way to resolve the issue,” he said.

“There is a significant amount of work to do in the days and weeks ahead, not least clear the waste dumped at the entrance to recycling centres and to give our city, towns and villages a deep clean.

“This has been a difficult period, probably the most difficult in my 17 years as a councillor. I worked hard behind the scenes, with both sides to try and get to this point, sometimes not being able to say anything publicly to help the process.

“I want to acknowledge those in the unions and management who have worked to get a resolution. This is not the time for political point scoring, there’s work to get getting on with.

“There’s a lot of work needed to build trust and relationships between staff and management as well as Council and the ratepayer.

“I am firmly of the view it should have not got to this nor cannot be allowed to happen again. I hope [tonight] will see a resolution to this and that services will quickly return to normal.

“I’ve been made aware of messages going about saying green and brown bins will be emptied [today], this is not the case.”

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