Said Cllr Harkin: “Council workers rightly overwhelmingly rejected a government pay offer that amounted to a real terms pay cut and are rightly balloting for strike action.
The pathetic offer was yet another slap in the face for frontline workers.
“Council’s in England have lost frontline HGV drivers to private transportation companies offering higher rates of pay.
“This has put tremendous pressure on local service delivery and has meant rubbish isn’t collected in some instances. I’ve spoken to local Council HGV drivers and they are being made similar offers. The solution is better pay and conditions.
“Trade unions representing Council workers carried out consultative ballots on the 1.75% pay offer and it was angrily and overwhelmingly rejected.
“This should come as no surprise. The real value of Council workers pay has declined nearly 25% since 2010. Inflation is running at nearly 4% and new taxes will disproportionately burden workers and the least well-off.
“Balloting for strike action and preparing for strike action is the only way to make it clear it’s time for a substantial pay increase. We are encouraging everyone to back the united trade union demand for a 10% pay increase.
“Previously, the Derry and Strabane Council unanimously backed a People Before Profit motion committing the body to pledge its full support for the 10% demand. Council workers and trade unions should make sure all the Executive parties who voted for this are held to it.
“Workers, whether they’re in the public, private or community sectors, should no longer accept paltry treatment when billionaires are holding champagne parties to celebrate the vast new fortunes they made sitting on their yachts during the pandemic.”