Belfast Telegraph

Public-sector workers deserve pay justice after Stormont deal, say unions

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions hopes the power-sharing agreement can lead to an imminent settlement.

Hard-pressed workers across Northern Ireland’s public service deserve pay justice following the power-sharing deal, trade union leaders said (Niall Carson/PA)
Hard-pressed workers across Northern Ireland’s public service deserve pay justice following the power-sharing deal, trade union leaders said (Niall Carson/PA)

By Michael McHugh, PA

Hard-pressed workers across Northern Ireland’s public service deserve pay justice following the restoration of power-sharing in Northern Ireland, trade union leaders have said.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said all have been forced to undertake industrial action in recent months to “attain the basic entitlements of a decent job”.

The umbrella organisation lauded the Stormont deal as a positive move.

General secretary Patricia King said: “We hope now that this determination to negotiate a just settlement applies imminently to the outstanding issues of pay justice for workers across Northern Ireland’s underfunded public services, not only for workers in health and education but also the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

“All of these workers have been forced in recent months to undertake industrial action to attain the basic entitlements of a decent job – a bearable workload, reasonable hours, safe working conditions and a fair day’s pay.

“This situation deserves to be resolved and we commend the document for making pay justice a top priority.”

As experienced negotiators ourselves, we can appreciate the hard work and attention to detail to reach the significant compromises required by all sides Patricia King

The most significant section of last week’s devolution agreement refers to ensuring workers access good jobs, with a voice that provides a level of autonomy, decent income, security of tenure and decent working conditions, the union movement said.

Ms King said workers also deserved clarity on funding for their pay settlement, as well as clearly detailed commitments for future funding to complete the remaining priorities recognised by the Stormont negotiating parties, many of which have been sought and campaigned for by trade unions for many years.

Their campaign included core demands of fair pay and investment in services such as childcare, housing, skills, welfare mitigation, workers’ rights and an industrial strategy, the senior trade unionist added.

She credited the patient negotiation skills of UK and Irish Government ministers and their officials.

“As experienced negotiators ourselves, we can appreciate the hard work and attention to detail to reach the significant compromises required by all sides,” she said.

“Naturally, not everybody is happy with every clause and section of this document but that is the nature of compromises which can be necessary to ultimately achieve long-term goals for our movement and the people we represent.”

PA

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