NIPSA members in Newry, Mourne and Down Council, together with our sister unions SIPTU, GMB and UNITE, took strike action on 3 December 2020 in furtherance of the intransigence of Management Side in a long running dispute..

The dispute centred on a number of key issues including:

  • The flawed job evaluation process with no panels and no input into Job Descriptions;
  • TUS objection to the inclusion of allowances being incorporated into job descriptions which were subsequently removed as part of the dispute;
  • The redundancy policy decisions made by councillors and the manner in which it was carried out;
  • A detailed time table for the completion of the negotiations which respects the agreements already in place for such talks;
  • That management adheres to TUPE policy; and
  • Pay equality for all of our members from both legacy councils with recognition of service where applicable.

Following intense negotiations and a day of strike action on 3 December there was some movement on most of the above issues. However, others remained unresolved and following further talks it became clear further action was needed. NIPSA and the other unions commenced with action short of strike by having a work to rule, a ban on overtime and other issues which would have maximum impact.

This action led to further prolonged negotiations facilitated by the LRA. Following these negotiations there was a successful outcome to all elements of the dispute.

  • Management and Joint Trade Union Side agreed to the establishment of a job evaluation process which mirrors that currently employed by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to be used for all future job evaluation and grading exercises. (This remains in place until the process below is completed).
  • Management confirmed its commitment to JTUS that all roles, responsibilities and duties that currently attract allowances will continue to do so, this will remain until a negotiated settlement can be reached with JTUS.
  • Management confirm that JTUS will have a role in the drawing up of Job Descriptions as set out in the GLPC scheme.
  • Management Side agreed to enter into negotiations with JTUS in relation to a new redundancy policy with an open mind and without pre-conditions. Where these negotiations take Management Side beyond the negotiating position previously endorsed by the Council, Management Side has undertaken to revert to the Council regarding a change in their negotiating position or any proposals not previously endorsed by the Council.
  • Management agreed to a timetable and the commitment of resources to have the remainder of the pay consultations carried out by the 31 of August 2021 and all other harmonisation by the 31 December 2021. These dates can only be extended by full agreement of both sides. This will be done in line with the agreements in place.
  • Management have acknowledged that a number of pay anomalies have arisen as a result of the Council Mergers. What has been accepted is the categories of staff listed are undertaking essentially the same work but impacted by a pay and grading disparity relating to the legacy councils.

Refuse Operatives scale 2
HRC site operatives scale 2
Gardener scale 2
HGV Driver scale 3
Greenkeeper/Gardener scale 3
Leisure centre receptionists scale 3
Payroll Staff scale 4
Painter scale 5

Staff in these categories will receive compensatory payments in line with earnings and time served ranging from £500 to £7500. On the acceptance of their Job Description and individual compromise agreement.

This was an excellent outcome for the unions and members involved across the Council. NIPSA’s General Council wish to thank all the members involved in this dispute. It is an example, whereby in a multi-union situation, when the unions working collaboratively and in support of each other, this magnificent victory was achieved.
On behalf of the General Council I have been asked to relay the full support and thanks of the General Council to all the brave NIPSA members and the members of our sister unions who took industrial action in support of each other. This is a true example of solidarity and strength in trade union membership and co-operation.

I am sure all branches and members wish to congratulate the members and branch for the very successful outcome.

Alison Millar
General Secretary