Belfast Telegraph

Waterfront and Ulster Hall staff in strike ballot

By John Mulgrew

Workers at Belfast's Waterfront and Ulster Hall are to vote on strike action.

The Unite and Siptu unions are balloting staff at the venues, which are owned by Belfast City Council but run as a separate limited company.

The unions claim "outsourced management seeks to create a two-tier workforce" and change the terms and conditions of employment.

Michael Keenan of Unite said commitments made when operations were outsourced had been broken.

"Unite and Siptu stood united against the outsourcing of our municipal facilities by Belfast City Council," he added.

"The City Council ignored our concerns as they were intent on transferring their responsibilities to staff and the general public to an arm's-length body.

"In April last year, when the move was made, workers were promised that there would be no diminution of terms and conditions.

"Unfortunately, the arm's-length management appear intent on ripping up those commitments to the workers as they seek to squeeze workers' pay and terms and conditions.

"We call on Belfast City Council to end this failed attempt to cut workers' pay through outsourcing services."

Niall McNally of Siptu also claimed that promises had been broken.

"Without engaging with unions (management) initiated a recruitment drive for staff who will be employed on diminished terms and conditions compared with those standard for existing workers," he said.

Responding to the announcement, a spokesperson for Belfast City Council said: "The council is satisfied that the agreement put in place establishing the company is being complied with by the Waterfront Hall Board.

"We approved the establishment of the company to help achieve our aims of increasing the number of visitors to the city and growing the local economy.

"The council received significant funding predicated on this arrangement being put in place and this enabled a new multi million conference facility to be developed at no cost to Belfast ratepayers.

"The performance of the company and its adherence to the agreement is monitored on a quarterly basis by a shareholders meeting."

Belfast Telegraph

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