Belfast City Council staff to get £250 bonus for blizzard and flood overtime
Belfast City Council has agreed to set up a pot of £469,150 to reward staff who respond to emergency situations.
Staff called out to work extra hours during crisis-type incidents– such as flooding and blizzards –will now receive a one-off payment of £250.
The request had been made three years ago by the Belfast City Council's Trade Union Group that the council make the payment to employees earning up to £23,708.
The payment was seen as an extra bonus when responding to emergency situations if it resulted in staff working outside their normal hours and carrying out duties which may not be part of their own day-to-day work.
The move to set up the £469,150 fund recently received cross-party support. A council spokesman confirmed the payment is being funded from a "re-allocation of existing budgets".
The fund came into being on April 4 and it is understood it will be paid to staff who work on incidents after this date.
Once an employee has been given the £250 reward, it will not be paid again, regardless of how many incidents they work on.
Sinn Fein's Niall O Donnghaile said it was important to acknowledge the work of the staff. "Our staff are not getting this, let's be honest, much-needed payment for nothing," he said.
"They are getting it as a result of their hard work – their commendable work on behalf of the citizens of this city.
"We really have stepped into the breach over the last few months during the recent adverse weather.
"I think this small gesture, this small token in support of our staff and support of their hard work, is an important move."
SDLP's Nichola Mallon said staff go "above the call of duty".
"I think over the recent bitterly cold spell we have seen at first hand our council employees go well above the call of duty," she said.
Ulster Unionist Jim Rodgers said many have "risked life and limb" to ensure roads are cleared during bad weather.
"Many of our staff over the years, especially with the snow and the flooding, have been working irregular hours and it is good that they are being recognised.
UUP's Bob Stoker (left), however, said more needed to be done to support low paid workers. "This has been ongoing since 2010. It works out at approximately £83 a year which, if my calculations are right, is £7 a month, less than £2 a week of additional payments for people," he said.
"If we are talking about poorly paid workers we should be negotiating along with them and the unions to ensure they have a decent pay rise and a decent standard of living.
"There are still a lot of poorly paid workers in Belfast City Council."
It is understood the payment of staff during emergency situations has also been recently discussed by Larne Borough Council.