Members in Local Government please see below correspondence from Terry Thomas NIPSA Assistant Secretary (Acting) to all MLAs
I am writing to you on behalf of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) Local Government Panel which covers members within Local Councils. NIPSA as you may be aware is the largest Trade Union in Northern Ireland with over 40,000 members across the Public and Civil Services.
This letter aims to bring to your attention the current crisis in Local Councils that is threatening local services and jobs to the point of immediate closure and redundancy.
NIPSA has launched an immediate campaign to protect services and protect jobs as a result of the ongoing restrictions during this Covid-19 pandemic.
In particular, the recent news release in respect of Council employees availing of Furlough highlights the ongoing extent of the Pandemic restrictions upon Council services and placing employees at risk of redundancy as the ongoing spread of Covid-19 takes hold and local lockdown rules are applied.
During the initial response to the Covid-19 pandemic the lifeline for many Councils, jobs and services was secured via the implementation of the Job Retention/Furlough Scheme as redundancy fears loomed following the closure of services at risk of Covid-19 transmission.
However, the current ongoing rise in Covid-19 cases continues to restrict the reopening of Council services and restricts the number of employees returning due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing requirements.
Indeed, as the recent figures show many Council employees remain on Furlough and are now at risk of redundancy as Council finances are plunged further into crisis with income generating services such as community, leisure and tourism all remaining restricted and associated incomes reduced.
NIPSA would therefore seek your support and assistance by asking you to:
- Meet with NIPSA Local Government Representatives to discuss their concerns.
- Raise these concerns in the Assembly and table the necessary questions of the Department for Communities in relation to identifying the services currently affected which remain closed or restricted and quantifying the staff at risk of redundancy.
- To clarify the application of Job Support Scheme for Councils following the end of Furlough.
- To seek a halt to proposed redundancies at this time until an appropriately resourced severance package such as that previously under RPA can be agreed regionally.
- Challenge the Northern Ireland Assembly, Department for Communities and Local Council colleagues to act now and seek immediate additional funding and resources to secure the local services and jobs in Councils that will be essential to help local communities rebuild as we progress through this pandemic.