26 September 2023

NORTHERN IRELAND: Union slams ‘insulting’ pay offer

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Northern Ireland Public Servants have been offered a pay rise worth less than two per cent to a typical member of staff.

The £552 ($A971) pay award would apply to all staff apart from the lowest paid and be backdated to August 2022.

Those low-paid workers are to have their wages increased to the Real Living Wage level of £21,053 ($A37,053) a year.

The Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) immediately branded the pay offer as “derisory and insulting” and suggested that industrial action would follow.

A spokesperson for the Department of Finance said the Department “recognises and regrets the offer is below what staff and unions will expect in a very challenging year”.

Official figures suggest a typical full-time Public Servant in Northern Ireland was being paid £28,706 ($A58,5022) in 2022, meaning an extra £552 is equivalent to 1.9 per cent.

The current rate of inflation is 10.7 per cent.

The 2022 pay offer is only being made now because Northern Ireland has neither a domestic Budget nor a public sector pay policy due to the lack of a functioning Executive.

A Budget was finally approved by the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in November, meaning senior Public Servants currently running the Province could make pay awards but they had to be “affordable” in the context of that Budget.

In a memo to staff, the senior official at the Department of Finance, Neil Gibson, said he wished the pay offer could have gone much further, “however, we are constrained by the very difficult budgetary position.”

“The offer is in no sense a reflection of how you and your work are valued by the Northern Ireland Civil Service,” Mr Gibson said.

General Secretary of NIPSA, Carmel Gates said a pay offer of that magnitude was just an insult in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis where everyone was struggling to make ends meet.

“We have no choice but to fight and to join the action of our sister unions,” Ms Gates (pictured) said.

Belfast, 7 January 2023

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