Northern Ireland

Translink boss says no more cash available for increased pay offer

Members of Unite the Union and GMB on a picket line at Translink’s Europa Bus Station in Belfast during a 24-hour dispute over pay on December 1 (PA)

THE head of Translink has suggested it is unlikely Translink will be able to make an improved pay offer for workers.

Chris Conway was speaking after unions rejected the latest pay offer of a 5% increase plus a one-off payment of £1,500 for 2023/24.

Transport workers in the Unite, GMB and Siptu trade unions had called off 72 hours of strikes last month to allow more time for negotiations.

Members had also taken part in several days of strike action before Christmas as well as joining other public sector workers in January for one of Northern Ireland’s largest days of industrial action in years.

A joint statement said bus and rail workers had “decisively voted to reject as inadequate a pay offer made by Translink management.”

With around 70 per cent rejecting the pay offer, unions are now holding fresh talks with Translink to resolve the dispute.

Unions are also consulting members on the next steps to improve pay and “mounting problems” with recruitment and retention difficulties.

The new York Street Train Station in North Belfast which is scheduled for opening at the end of next month, with completion of public realm works at the station finishing up in November. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN
Chief Executive at Translink NI Chris Conway. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN (Mal McCann)

Speaking to Cool FM on Wednesday, Translink CEO Chris Conway said: “At the minute, we’re waiting until the final ballot is completed and at that point we’ll meet with the unions to see what the next steps are.

“It’s been a long process and we’ve negotiated and worked hard with the union to get to a fair deal and now we just need to see what the next steps are.”

Asked if there was room for negotiation to prevent further strikes, he said: “Translink doesn’t have any further funding in this regard.

“When I meet with them, we’ll have that conversation.”

Several other pay disputes are still in motion across Northern Ireland.

Most civil servants and healthcare workers in Northern Ireland are also considering the same offer of 5% for 2023/24, with a one-off payment of £,1500.

The Royal College of Nursing in Northern Ireland has already expressed disappointed in the lump-sum or non-consolidated payment of £1,500.

Earlier this month, junior doctors in Northern Ireland went ahead with their first ever strike by staging a 24-hour walkout.

The Department of Health had made a backdated pay offer for 2023/24, with would equal a 9.1% increase and 10.7% for those in their first year.

The British Medical Association’s NI Junior Doctor Committee said this still fell short of addressing what has been a 30% pay erosion since 2008.

This week, the Education Minister Paul Givan also announced that newly qualified teachers could see their starting salary increase by 24% under a new pay offer.

New teachers could receive a starting salary of £30,000, while current teachers could also see their pay increase by 10%.

Members of the five main teaching unions, that make up the Northern Ireland Teaching Council (NITC), are now considering the offer with a decision due by March 26.