I wish to begin by extending my appreciation to all of you for your work on behalf of NIPSA members during this very difficult time. Your efforts are truly valued and I hope that you, your members and your families will stay safe.
I refer you to the article issued by the General Secretary on 19 March 2020. You will note that the post detailed the final offer from management and asked branches to begin consultation and to return responses to NIPSA Headquarters by 24 April 2020.
As you will be aware, this was issued before we had fully entered this unprecedented period of lock-down. Since then, a number of Branch Secretaries have been in touch with us to say that they are unable to conduct a proper consultation exercise with members because they are uncertain about the detail of the conditions attached to the offer. As you will know, branch consultation exercises are normally conducted through branch meetings that allow members to ask questions of an Executive Committee speaker. Clearly branch meetings are not possible at the current time and the conditions attached to the offer have not been fully explained. Understandably some members have told us they cannot make an informed decision.
In an effort to address the issue, NIPSA considered the possibility of a postal consultation with an explanatory paper attached for each member. Unfortunately, balloting companies are also in lock-down and a postal ballot has not been possible. We also considered an online ballot but that too was fraught with problems.
As I understand it some NIPSA members, particularly those classed as key workers, are in work, some are in work on alternate days or weeks, some are working from home and contactable by email but many are at home without PCs or laptops. Most branches have not, therefore, been able to conduct normal consultation.
Deputy General Secretary