I am pleased to advise that the Management Side have indicated that those Agency Workers who should have been awarded an incremental pay increase due to their length of service in the NICS will have this paid within the next 2 weeks. This will apply to 512 agency workers. This is a significant victory for NIPSA who pressed this issue on behalf of the many agency workers who had been denied their rights.

When hundreds of Agency Workers supported their permanent colleagues and walked out in support of the strike action undertaken by NIPSA members in permanent posts we promised them we would do everything we could to thank them for their support. We have now met those promises by securing a permanent Administrative Officer competition and now securing incremental progression for Agency Workers.

Branches should now advise agency workers of this victory and use it as a recruitment tool both for existing agency workers and for new permanent staff when they are appointed arising out of the permanent Administrative Officer competition. This clearly demonstrates the benefit of trade union membership.

Alison Millar
General Secretary

NIPSA is aware of ongoing health and safety concerns regarding the safe operation of vehicle lifts across the vehicle testing centres.  We are aware that the testing of heavy vehicles and vehicles pre-booked to the HGV lanes – lane 1 are unaffected but that, as a precautionary measure, the testing of cars on the car lanes has been suspended in 10 centres. 

As members will be aware NIPSA lodged the 2019/20 NICS Pay Claim on 16 September 2019 following a branch consultation exercise.  The claim lodged was as follows:

  • An above inflation pay increase on both pay and allowances;
  • Pay restoration to address the pay loss since 2010; and
  • Further scale shortening for all scales from AA to Grade 6.

To date other than a joint meeting involving the Industrial and Non-Industrial Unions held on 24 September to open the 2019/20 pay negotiations there have been no negotiations.

As members will be aware the Department of Finance, Permanent Secretary set the Public Sector Pay Remit on 31 October 2019.  Since then several meetings of the Central Whitley Pay and Grading Sub-Committee have been cancelled by the Management Side on the basis they did not have a remit to commence negotiations.

A meeting was scheduled for 20 December 2019.  Trade Union Side cancelled this meeting on the basis we were advised the day before that the issue of NICS pay was still the subject of discussion between the Department of Finance Permanent Secretary and NICS Board colleagues in the context of the political talks and the setting of the budget for Northern Ireland.  Trade Union Side took the view there was no point in a meeting if the reality was there was nothing to discuss.

It is a disgrace that over 5 months after a pay increase was due no negotiations have taken place.  It appears that the NICS Board, the Department of Finance, Permanent Secretary and others care nothing for hard working civil servants who deserve a decent pay increase.

The Civil Service Group Executive Committee are scheduled to meet on 10 January 2020 to discuss the campaign on all elements of the dispute.  A further article will issue thereafter.

Alison Millar
General Secretary
Administrative Officer Competition

As members may already be aware the NICS yesterday launched an external competition for the recruitment of Administrative Officers.  As part of the ongoing industrial action NIPSA had ramped up the pressure on the Management Side to agree to run an external competition for permanent Administrative Officers on the basis there are approximately 1,500 Administrative Officer vacancies most of which are currently filled by Agency Workers.  During the negotiations that have taken place over the last number of weeks NIPSA managed to ensure that an Administrative Officer competition was run that did not include an ‘Operational Delivery’ Administrative Officer which was the Management Side’s preferred option.

NIPSA managed to push back working patterns and other issues to ensure that, as far as possible, new Administrative Officers had options regarding working patterns both at the commencement of their employment and in the future.

This is a significant win for NIPSA and would not have happened without the support of all NIPSA members in the current industrial action.  We must keep up the pressure on the Management Side to ensure that we have other wins in the near future.  You can be assured that NIPSA will seek at all times to protect your terms and conditions of employment.

Agency Workers – Pay Progression

Following pressure from NIPSA Management Side have agreed that Agency workers who have been in place for the requisite period of time (the same as a permanent member of staff) are entitled to annual pay progression.  Work is currently ongoing to check the amounts due to current Agency workers working within the NICS.  Following further engagement with the Management Side they have given a firm commitment that Agency workers who are working within the NICS will be paid monies due within this financial year (i.e. by 31 March 2020).  For those members who are no longer employed within the Civil Service a separate exercise will be undertaken to ensure they receive any monies due.

I am sure branches, particularly those with Agency workers, will be pleased that NIPSA have secured this further victory for this group of workers.

NIPSA have received a range of queries from members regarding the above competition.  It is clear that as a result of no consultation with NIPSA it is difficult to answer some of the queries being raised.  In addition as members are aware NIPSA is continuing with a legal challenge on the lack of meaningful consultation on the SO/DP competition which is in breach of Central Whitley and that process continues.

Given the range of issues being raised by members it is important if you have concerns you should immediately raise a complaint/grievance and insist you have a meeting to articulate your concerns and have them addressed.

NIPSA has sought details of the EQIA which should have been carried out and other specific queries relating to this competition which remains, in NIPSA's view, a flawed process.

Alison Millar
General Secretary


Further to NIPSA Bulletin B-9-19 issued on 16 May 2019 entitled External Deputy Principal and Staff Officer Competition I am writing to update members on the current position.

NIPSA is continuing to legally challenge the lack of meaningful consultation over the whole process regarding the above external competition.  The Judicial Review process is continuing and will be heard before the courts in due course. 

As previously indicated it is NICS Management’s view that the default position for all future recruitment competitions should be external so this is a major concern to NIPSA and to NIPSA members.  Career and promotion opportunities will be severely diminished in the future if Management Side and the NICS Board are allowed to get away with changing members’ terms and conditions without proper and meaningful consultation.  There has been no meaningful consultation on this process and therefore NIPSA believe that this is a fundamental issue and this is why we are continuing with the Judicial Review process.  At this point in time I cannot advise members on whether the current competition will be halted and hence that was the reason we advised from the outset that any member interested in applying should do so.

NIPSA were advised that there were approximately 4300 applications for the Staff Officer post and 3000 for the Deputy Principal post.  As members will be aware from the outset of these two competitions there have been many problems with IT failures, changes to process (I understand additional tests have been added into the process – again without consultation with NIPSA).  It is a disgrace given the amount of problems that have beset these competitions that Management Side supported by the NICS Board have continued with the current discredited process.

Members can be assured that NIPSA continue to challenge the process both through the registered disagreement and the courts. 

For these reasons it is important that when members receive their ballot papers next week they vote “Yes” for Strike Action and “Yes” for Action Short of Strike Action.  The ballot is two-fold – both pay and attacks on terms and conditions.

Alison Millar

General Secretary