Housing Executive staff end strike after pay offer is accepted

Housing Executive workers pictured during their strike in Belfast. A new pay offer has brought the action to an end, it was confirmed on Tuesday. Picture by Hugh Russell
Paul Ainsworth

CRITICAL services for Housing Executive tenants can now recommence after striking workers accepted a new pay offer, it has been confirmed.

Maintenance staff who are members of Unite the Union have been engaged in the industrial action since September over demands for an uplift on the national pay offer to local government workers of 1.75 per cent.

Around 300 staff were engaged in the walk-out, which continued when a pay offer by the NI Housing Executive (NIHE) was rejected in January following meetings brokered by the Labour Relations Agency.

A Unite representative had said desperate workers were turning to food banks as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, while some had even resorted to loans from paramilitaries.

The NIHE will now seek final approval for the new pay offer, which also includes a cost-of-living payment of £1,600, from the Department for Communities.

NIHE chief executive Grainia Long said the organisation was "pleased" that the offer was accepted by Unite and members of Nipsa

"This also now brings an end to Unite’s industrial action and allows us to recommence a number of critical services, in the interests of our tenants and customers," she said.

"We have continuously and proactively engaged with trade unions over recent months in an attempt to find a resolution to both the joint local pay claim and Unite’s industrial action. We provided an amended and improved offer, which includes a cost of living payment of £1,600 for all staff.

"Our lowest paid staff, who are impacted the most by the increased cost of living, will receive an additional £400."

Ms Long added: "We’ve been able to offer these terms following confirmation of the 2022/23 budget and our end of year financial year spend."

Sinn Féin MLA and former Stormont communities minister Deirdre Hargey welcomed the new pay deal.

"The cost of living payment of £1,600 for all staff is also welcome as these workers and their families are having to endure financial pressures simply to make ends meet," she said.