Council chief ‘all ears’ on ideas to raise income

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A cash-strapped council CEO has said he is “all ears” on soloutions to increase income at his local authority in order to pay staff and avoid strike action.

In an emailed letter to employees, chief executive of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) David Burns has put the solution to costs of any potential pay rise at the feet of his staff.

Approximately 200 members of LCCC staff are set to strike next week after council bosses failed to deliver a pay increase following talks with three representative trade unions, Unite, GMB and Nipsa.

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Any pay rise deal will need to be voted through by elected members of the council which could be well into next month.

David Burns, Chief Executive of Lisburn & Castleragh City Council Council.David Burns, Chief Executive of Lisburn & Castleragh City Council Council.
David Burns, Chief Executive of Lisburn & Castleragh City Council Council.

The local authority said: “The council is currently briefing all political parties on the impact of any proposal in addition to costs we are already facing.

“This is to ensure that any decisions are made on the basis of what is feasible and sustainable for staff, services, and the ratepayer.

“These discussions will take place over the coming weeks.”

The letter by the CEO, seen by the media, was sent to employees at 3.17pm on Friday (August 26) ahead of the bank holiday on Monday.

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The timing of which has caused concern, as according to a staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, the council would be “dead with employees unable to respond to the CEO”.

In the chief executive’s email, Mr Burns says: “If you have any suggestions that could increase income or cut costs, I and the directors are all ears.

“I would hope that the trade unions continue to demonstrate the strong leadership they have shown to date to this council and continue to work with us on this matter.

“I do not underestimate the challenge that faces us over the next six months.”

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Unite responded on Tuesday with a stark warning that it will move for the strongest possible industrial action across the board.

A letter to members read: “Out of 11 councils it is the unions’ reasonable view that LCCC is the council that is being most evasive in making an offer. Unite today have served management with seven days notice of continuous strike beginning September 6.

“Obviously it would be ideal if all three unions were able to take action at the same time, but this is not viable as it would be unlawful. The trade unions wish to reassure all their members that they are working hard to get to the point that all three unions are able to take action, dependent on ballot outcomes.”