Stormont Ministers have agreed to a deal totalling up to £150m owed to civil servants in back pay — but it could be several more months before the money reaches their pockets.
The Executive yesterday ratified the deal which will now be formally put to their main union, the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) and others who do not belong to the union.
Up to 13,000 low-grade, primarily female, civil servants — mostly administrative officers and administrative assistants — are in line for the compensation in an equal pay case which dates back more than eight years.
A final agreement with NIPSA will also prevent more than 5,000 individual pay claims, currently pending with the industrial tribunals system, from going ahead.
Finance Minister Sammy Wilson presented the package to his DUP, Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionist and SDLP colleagues yesterday but was not available for comment following the meeting.
A spokesman for Mr Wilson's department said: “We are still in discussions with the trade union side and it would be inappropriate to say anything further about the progress on this issue at this stage.”
A senior source said: “Things have now moved onto the next stage. Now with the authority of the Executive behind him, the Minister is in a position to put the offer formally, and there will then be a ballot of NIPSA members.
“The fact is however that not all of those affected by the back pay issue are members of the union and they must also agree before there is a final settlement of this.”