‘Hardest working staff’ in NI take strike action

Up to a hundred Dungannon public sector workers are taking strike action today (Thursday) in protest at a range of issues including pay and pensions.

Staff at Dungannon library, the leisure centre, housing executive offices and other council-run premises are among those taking part.

Strike action shuts Dungnanon Library

Strike action shuts Dungnanon Library

Bin collections will also be affected.

Mounting the picket at Dungannon Library Mark Cardwell, local Branch Manager, warned that staff morale was very low.

“We are the hardest working library in Northern Ireland, apart from Belfast Central, and our jobs as librarians have changed so much over the past ten years, but this has not been reflected in our pay grades”, said the NIPSA member.

“When I started in Dungannon, the job was about issuing books to old ladies. However, the sheer demographic oddity that is Dungannon means that we have to deal with a much greater variety of customers, many of them from overseas.

“Our biggest source of footfall is from the migrant population and we are incredibly busy meeting their needs.

“We are looking for just a 1 percent pay rise, which is minimal when compared to the 11% that politicians are planning to push through.”

Across Northern Ireland, members of Nipsa, Unite, the GMB, Unison, Siptu and the PCS joined trade unions in England and Wales in the strike action.

It could be the biggest walkout of employees since the coalition government came to power in May 2010.

Unions said one of the things they were protesting about was a pay offer they claim was worth only 1%.

Jimmy Kelly of Unite, said: “Our members don’t do glamorous jobs, they’re the ones lifting your bins from outside your door.

“It’s a job that has to be done, but they have to be paid decent wages.

“We’ve tried all the usual talking and meetings, trying to achieve an extra pound an hour for our members. The talking just doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Alison Millar, deputy general secretary, of NIPSA said: “Members have voted to reject the employers’ side offer of 1%.

“Quite frankly members have had enough. Their pay has effectively been cut by over 20% in real terms. Members’ take-home pay buys less and less every year.”