The finance department at Stormont has defended its pay offer to civil servants in the face of strike action planned by the trade union NIPSA for July 26.
However, the union has warned that further industrial action will be on the way after that date unless an agreement can be reached.
The union has also announced industrial action short of a strike set to begin on July 29, with further strike action set to be discussed in early August.
Carmel Gates, deputy general secretary at NIPSA, told the News Letter workers are unhappy with another below-inflation pay offer and changes to terms and conditions.
The strike is set to go ahead after 5,937 votes were cast in a recent ballot. From a total membership of around 16,000. 68.5% backed the strike.
Ms Gates believes the current standoff would not have arisen had an elected minister been making the final decision.
“I would like to think that a minister would not have allowed this to happen,” she said.
“We wrote to all the political parties while we were in discussions with management. We sought meetings with the political parties and we met with all the main parties.
“Clearly, because they’re not in the Assembly and there aren’t any ministers they don’t have the same influence they would normally have.”
She added: “On the 29th, industrial action short of strike action begins but our executive committee will be meeting at the end of that place to put in place preparations for further strike action.”
A Department of Finance (DOF) spokesperson said: “The Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) will put in place measures to ensure essential services continue to be delivered during the planned industrial action which is being taken by NIPSA from 26th July.
“DoF believes the pay award is fair in the context of the challenging financial environment the NICS is operating in with finite resources available and increasing pressures. The pay award to non-industrial civil servants is worth 2.05% of NICS pay bill and will be paid on 29 July.”
The spokesperson added: “The cost of this award is around £16.4 million. DoF is keen to tackle low pay in the NICS and so the pay award includes a larger increase of 3% at Administrative Assistant and analogous grades, with all others receiving a 1.25% uplift as well as any progression payment due.”