Stormont should shut up shop at weekends and in the evenings in a bid to save jobs according to the main public service union.
The Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (Nipsa) argues efficiency savings could be achieved by closing Parliament Buildings on Saturdays and Sundays, after 8pm at night — and also on public holidays.
It is currently locked in negotiations with the government over saving jobs. Nipsa claims around 20 positions have already been lost at Stormont and the Assembly Commission, which is responsible for its daily administration, is asking for more.
The commission, on which all the main political parties are represented, is seeking savings of just over 20% which will mean the complement of secretariat staff going down from 410 to 375.
Nipsa official Noel Griffin said: “Part of our proposals relate to the closure of Parliament Buildings at weekends and also earlier in the evenings — for example 8pm.
“This would reduce overall staffing costs and deliver savings in relation to lighting and heating,” he said.
The union, which is the largest in Northern Ireland, said even the non-replacement of workers who have left so far is putting pressure on remaining staff.
Some have been faced with working long, unsociable hours and on occasions — Nipsa claims — work requirements have resulted in breaches of the working time regulations.
“The Assembly Commission signed off an arbitrary cut in their budget without considering the adverse impact on services and staff numbers,” Mr Griffin said.
The commission said no final decisions have been made.
The Assembly Commission, which runs Stormont, has had a budget cut in real terms of 17% over the current four-year period. It is tasked with finding savings and has begun a series of efficiency ‘reviews’. Nipsa — which represents over 46,000 members — said jobs have already been cut which has been achieved by not replacing staff as they leave.