You will already be well aware of the Joint TUS Local Pay Claim which was lodged with Senior Management in June 2022, details of which are provided below.

Previous updates have provided reports on little progress and the resultant frustration felt by both NIPSA and Unite in talks with your Employer. You will also be aware that Unite the Union members have been on continuous strike action in the NIHE on the issue of pay for many many months.

Indeed, the trade union movement across the UK, including NI, has been galvanising members across the public sector to coordinate strike action and action short of strike action as the Government and Employers fail to meaningfully engage with trade unions in order to recognise the pain and stress that you are facing as a result of spiralling inflation and the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Currently, RPI stands at 13.4% whilst CPI is 10.5%. Food inflation for December 2022 stood at 16.8% which means that the price you pay for your food has increased significantly in the past year. Inflation does not discriminate – we all pay the same rising prices – and those increases as well as the escalating increases in the price of energy, with rises in some cases of beyond 89%, makes a decent standard of living extremely difficult, indeed impossible, for those who are paid not much more that the National Living Wage.

Your trade union, NIPSA, fully recognises the impact that this crisis is having upon you and your family and has prioritised every opportunity since June 2022 to engage with your Employer both directly and more recently via the Labour Relations Agency to ensure that every option to improve your pay has been explored as a result of the lodgement of our JTUS Local Pay Claim. Furthermore, there has been no real recognition by your Employer of the dedicated service provided by you during the Coronavirus epidemic, when you demonstrated selfless dedication and professionalism to ensure that NIHE services continued during under extremely difficult circumstances. These are the same reasons that our colleagues in the NICS and the NHS are fighting back and saying enough is enough – we all demand better!

In the above context, this article is to provide an update on discussions at the LRA during December 2022 and to set out the consultation arrangements which the NIPSA Central Panel has agreed should be urgently undertaken by all NIPSA Branches in the NIHE.

The JTUS Pay Claim comprised of the following demands:

  • All grades to move up 2 spinal column points
  • A reduction in the working week to 35 hours with no salary decrease
  • A cost of living payment of £1,000 for staff
  • 2 days’ additional leave
  • Improvements to mileage rates
  • A commitment to maintain pay above the Real Living Wage going forward

As talks continued, the JTUS prioritised our focus on the top two demands for maximum support for our members. Unfortunately, the talks process broke down due to Management Side’s intransigence so our focus shifted to a 4 week period of talks facilitated by the LRA immediately leading up to Christmas 2022. At the penultimate day of LRA talks, your Employer, led by the CEO, tabled an improved offer. Despite the trade unions tabling a counter offer for consideration, the NIHE refused to consider it and formally submitted its final offer, the details of which were shared with you just before Christmas. When I wrote to the CEO on 22 December to seek continuation of the talks, this was refused. You can find a copy of the CEO’s response on Gateway.

The final offer is comprised of:

One additional SCP to Bands 1-3 to be revised as follows, backdated to April 2022:

  • Band 1 to become SCPs 2-4
  • Band 2 to become SCPs 4-6
  • Band 3 to become SCPs 7-9


  • Staff whose grades up to and including Level 5 (with scales ending at SCP 25) to receive a one off cost of living payment of £1,000 net (this includes admin levels up to and including Level 5, DLO Grades up to and including GE01 and Technical Grades up to and including TL2)
  • All other grades to receive a one off cost of living payment of £500 net.

Management Side has offered to pause its review of mileage rates with further discussions to be based on the principles of carbon reduction/sustainable development. The original Management Side offer proposed a significant cut to the current mileage rates, despite our JTUS Claim calling for an increase. Any cut to mileage rates was out rightly rejected by your negotiators.


The CEO has emphasised that this offer is only available for this current year whilst the budget has funding set aside for it to be implemented. She has clearly stated that funding to implement this offer is only available up to the end of March 2023. NIPSA has raised equality concerns over the offer in that it does not treat all staff equally, and may cause leapfrogging of managerial structures due to the inconsistencies of approach. Around 1/5 of NIHE’s workforce are Agency workers, and NIPSA believes that associated recruitment and retention difficulties are largely down to low rates of pay. This has been made clear to the NIHE.

Our sister Union Unite has consulted its members on the above offer and has advised the CEO that it has been “overwhelmingly rejected”. Unite members remain on continuous strike action.

The NIPSA TUS and Central Panel met to discuss this final offer and have agreed to undertake a Branch consultation exercise to obtain your views on the offer and whether it should be rejected or accepted by NIPSA. As lead negotiator, I believe that this is the best offer that can be secured by negotiation alone. Therefore, Branch meetings will be held for you to express your views, and discuss potential other avenues open to members to persuade Management back to the negotiating table to engage on an improved offer. Such avenues would include a ballot for Industrial Action and/or Action short of strike action, which may include working to rule, taking all breaks, not working overtime, not covering for absent or striking colleagues etc.

Trade Unions across the UK Public Sector, including NIPSA, are already demonstrating their anger at Employers and the Government by voting YES in ballots for Industrial Action and Action Short of Strike Action. Millions more workers are joining the fight back this year to demand improved pay and terms and conditions of employment and to protect their rights. Councils across NI have fought and won improved pay, terms and conditions of employment through engagement in industrial action. NIPSA believes that it is time for our members in the NIHE to fight back to secure decent wages which would help you to have a decent standard of living throughout this cost of living crisis, which is likely to continue for some time.

If you do not accept the offer, and are willing to take some form of action, we believe that there is the potential for further engagement with the NIHE to improve the offer on the table.

I would therefore urge you to attend your Branch consultation meeting to share your views and thereafter, complete the consultation form available to download from the link below and return to my Secretary email Ann Cartwright by:

5pm on Friday 17 February.

Details of your Branch Consultation meeting, which will take place w/c 6-10 February 2023, will be shared shortly by your Branch Committee.

Please help NIPSA to help you by voting Yes for a formal ballot of NIPSA members in the NIHE to proceed and give your Central Panel the mandate to take action to secure a better pay offer.

Kim Graham
Assistant Secretary