Unite the Union Regional Officer Gareth Scott claimed the strike follows the failure of employers to provide an improved pay offer to workers.
He says that employees have been offered a rise of 1.75% against a background of UK inflation having risen to around 7% - the highest rate it has been for 30 years.The union’s opening position in negotiations is a 10% pay rise.
“We are in dispute with 19 local authorities but the main ones would be all of the councils and Education Authority Housing Executive,” Mr Scott told the News Letter. The industrial action is planned from Monday 25 April to Sunday 8 May.In councils his union membership is mainly involved in service delivery such as refuse collection and recycling centres, street cleansing and some leisure centres but the membership density in each sector varies from council to council.
“However we would expect refuse collection to be hit to different degrees in all councils.”
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Education Authority members on strike are mainly working in school transport, classroom assistants, cleaning, and catering while Housing Executive employees taking part would be involved in general maintenance of houses and also grounds.
“The strike is about pay and conditions,” he said. “We are in dispute individually with each of the 19 local authorities so we have to negotiate locally with them. But basically it is looking for local agreements that improve pay and conditions of the employees.”
They are pressing for uplifted pay scales as part of their demands.
“The 1.75% pay offer is what we are in dispute about but we need to negotiate any improvements on pay and conditions locally with the councils. That is what we are endeavouring to do.”
The industrial action will vary from council to council because it depends on our union density in each council.
“The union is calling for local authorities to engage with the trade unions to try and resolve this dispute. Some employers have already engaged with us and some haven’t.
“Our original demand in national negotiations was 10% and we were offered 1.75%. But obviously it is a negotiation - where you end up is not necessarily what you ask for. We are willing to negotiate.”
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council says that if bins are not emptied, residents are asked to take them bins back in from the kerbside and place them out again on their next scheduled collection day.
Collections missed on the week commencing April 25 will return to normal from Monday, May 9 and collections missed the week commencing May 2 will return to normal on the week commencing Monday, May 16, it said.
The council advised ratepayers to make sull use of their green and brown recyling bins during the strike.