Northern Ireland news

Summer of public service strikes could start next Friday

Nipsa general secretary Alison Millar

A summer of public service strikes could start next Friday after members gave one union "a strong mandate" for industrial action and another launches a ballot.

Nipsa, Northern Ireland's largest public sector trade union, has notified civil service bosses and government quangos that strike action will begin on July 26.

Other action short of a strike will start on Monday July 29.

General secretary Alison Millar said it is "not a decision that Nipsa or our members have taken lightly".

"Members have however given a strong mandate for strike action with over 68 per cent of members voting to support strike action and almost 87 per cent of members voting to support action short of strike action."

She said it relates to both a "totally unacceptable" imposed pay increase of 1.25 per cent - which the union described as a "pay cut in real terms" due to inflation running at more than two per cent - and "attacks on terms and conditions of employment".

Ms Millar added that following the collapse of the assembly "civil servants have effectively kept the country running".

A Department of Finance spokeswoman said: "The Northern Ireland Civil Service is seeking to ensure essential services continue to be delivered during the planned industrial action which is being taken by NIPSA from 26th July."

Meanwhile, workers at 12 Belfast leisure centres are to be balloted from Friday on strike action to demand a six per cent pay rise.

The affected leisure centres are: Ballysillan, Shankill, Whiterock, Falls, Olympia, Grove Wellbeing Centre, Avoniel, Loughside Recreation Centre, Ozone Complex, Belvoir Activity Centre, Girdwood Community Hub and Brooke Activity Centre.

Unite regional officer Michael Keenan said it will be balloting members working for outsourced management company Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) which has received a UK-wide pay claim.

"Belfast City Council voted to outsource leisure services to this company - they cannot wash their hands of the consequences of that for either the public or their former employees," he said.

A council spokeswoman said: "Belfast City Council is disappointed to learn that strike action is being considered at the city's leisure centres.

"Council is committed to working with GLL, its employees and their representatives to ensure the continued provision of leisure services to all our ratepayers across Belfast."

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