It has been almost 3 weeks since the Department of Finance published the 2019-20 Pay Remit for public sector workers, but negotiations on pay for the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) members have not yet started. While we expect negotiations to begin later this month, members feel justifiably angry that they will be facing yet another Christmas without a pay increase. When negotiations do commence, NIPSA will be making a strong case for an above inflation pay increase and will be making clear that our members will no longer tolerate either pay cuts that have continued for a decade or further attacks on their terms and conditions.
NICS Awards 2019
NIPSA members have also expressed anger at the staging of the NICS Awards 2019 which is an event held to acknowledge and reward the excellent service provided by civil servants. It does, however, add insult to injury that awards for, inter alia, customer service, innovation, policy and operation delivery, which is the work civil servants do well each and every day, will be acknowledged by certificates and awards for the few rather than a fair and decent pay increase for all. The event will occur the day after pay day which will serve as a further reminder, if one were needed, of how little the NICS actually rewards its staff.
For that reason, and to keep the pressure on, the Civil Service Executive Committee has decided to call a one-hour strike, at 3 pm on Thursday 28 November which is the day the awards ceremony will take place in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings. We will also be holding a protest at the event that evening and we are asking those members who can, to attend at 6 pm at the security entrance to Parliament Buildings. The protest is not targeted at those individuals who will be receiving the awards but at the concept of the awards ceremony itself.
Leaflets for the one-hour strike will be available for collection from NIPSA Headquarters tomorrow morning and supplies of leaflets will also be posted out to Branch Secretaries. I would ask Branch Secretaries and Local Reps to distribute the leaflets to all members in your area. A copy of the leaflet is also attached.
Our Campaign of Industrial Action has had Some Success
Our campaign of industrial action, which is about terms and conditions as well as pay, is achieving some success. For quite some time, NIPSA has been pushing the NICS to launch a recruitment exercise for Administrative Officers (AOs) so that we can bring an end to the extensive use of agency workers. We are pleased to report that we have started discussions with Management Side in relation to a large-scale AO competition which is likely to be launched before the end of the year. NIPSA is also pleased to report that we have secured incremental pay increases for agency staff in line with their NICS colleagues. We also remain hopeful that we will be successful in our legal challenge to NICS management for the failure to consult with NIPSA in relation to the external Staff Officer/Deputy Principal competition. NIPSA is also continuing to push back against Management Side proposals in relation to the ER Standardisation project. We will report further progress on these issues in further bulletins.