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Following the conclusion of industrial action by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council workers, statements have been issued by both the Unions representing the workers and the Council.

Joint Trade Union Statement

In the Union statement it said "management has agreed to a timetable and resources necessary to conclude full pay harmonisation by the end of the year" although the statement from Council seemed to disagree on the timetable saying "The Labour Relations Agency agreement nor the subsequent legal agreement included a timetable" but added that Council Management look forward to working constructively with the joint trade unions going forward.

Council industrial action saw disruption to bin collections in the first week of 2021. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Council industrial action saw disruption to bin collections in the first week of 2021. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

The Trade unions representing workers at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council issued the following statement concluding their industrial action after management moved to address longstanding pay and conditions issues, some of which were inherited from the formation of the Council in 2015.

“The four trade unions have concluded our industrial dispute after management at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council moved to address our members’ issues. This dispute centred on a number of issues: the flawed job evaluation process with no panels and no input into job descriptions, threats to allowances, the application of the council’s redundancy policy, adherence to TUPE policies, and pay equality for workers from both legacy councils including recognition of service.

“Management has agreed with trade union side to pursue a job evaluation process similar to that in other council areas; they have agreed that all roles, responsibilities and duties which currently attract allowances will continue to do so; that trade unions will have a role in drawing up job descriptions; and that negotiations will open on a new redundancy policy, without any preconditions.

“In regard to pay inequality, management has agreed to a timetable and resources necessary to conclude full pay harmonisation by the end of the year. Where pay anomalies have arisen as a result of the council merger in 2015, staff accepting the newly negotiated job description and compromise agreement and suffering any detriment will receive compensatory payments in line with earnings and time served, ranging from £500 to £7,500.

“All issues of concern having therefore been addressed by council management, the trade unions are happy to be able to call an end to this industrial dispute. It is unfortunate that the delay in management taking these steps previously led to workers being forced to take industrial action in the middle of winter and we regret the unnecessary disruption to the public that resulted.

“The successful conclusion of this dispute demonstrates once again the importance of workers collectively organising to win improvements through their trade unions. The trade union negotiation team would like to thank their members who have successfully prosecuted this campaign for pay equity. We would also like to thank the wider public whose consistent support for the workforce was decisive in ensuring such a positive conclusion.”

Council Statement

In their statement Newry, Mourne and Down Council said "Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Council Senior Management are pleased that the JTUS have confirmed their recent Industrial Action has been concluded. 

"The Council use the same job evaluation scheme as all local authorities in Northern Ireland. A request has been made for a review of the job evaluation process at a regional level. In the meantime, it was agreed to establish a job evaluation process similar to a neighbouring Council until such time as the regional approach is completed. 

"Bringing legacy Council’s together in 2015 resulted in a number of differences in terms and conditions of employment across the Council. The agreement reached with the Trade Unions resolves differences in basic pay. 

"The Trade Union side refer to a timetable and resources to complete full pay harmonisation by the end of the year. The Labour Relations Agency agreement nor the subsequent legal agreement included a timetable however Council Management look forward to working constructively with the JTUS going forward.”

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