Agreement reached to end strike action at confidential meeting of ABC Council

A deal has been struck to end strike action at Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

ix weeks of industrial action has plagued the council area.

Trade unions and the council will meet this morning to discuss suspension of strike action.

It has been most acutely felt in the lack of waste management services available to ratepayers, with households bins left unemptied, recycling centres closed and bin bags lining the streets beside overflowing public bins.

A special meeting of the local authority took place, in confidential, yesterday evening.

The council’s senior management team, led by chief executive Roger Wilson, was seeking councillors’ endorsement of a potential agreement with trade union representatives.

The meeting was held in confidential at Craigavon Civic Centre.

It is expected that strike action will be suspended while each of the three unions – Unite, GMB, and Nipsa – ballot members on the deal, which now includes incremental pay increases.

The decision taken by councillors was not unanimous.

The SDLP council grouping said it was “delighted” that a settlement has been agreed which will hopefully bring an end to industrial action.

Lurgan Councillor Ciarán Toman said: “The deal agreed rewards all staff with a payment in facing the cost of living crisis and it also targets the lowest paid staff in Council with a fair wage.

“The past six weeks have hugely frustrating and we certainly will have a tough recovery ahead to have everything back to normal.

“But lessons must also be learned – the trust between council, councillors and ratepayers has been broken.

“The lack of clarity to the ratepayer over this period has been the main reason that trust has been broken.

“It falls short of the standard of open and transparent governance citizens in this borough rightly expect.

“Further information is to be released on the resumption of services but it’s important that we refocus our minds to the clean up operation and to build that trust up.”

Alliance Party councillor Peter Lavery also confirmed the news on social media saying: “Agreement has been reached to end industrial action in ABC Council. 

“Alliance believe the settlement represents a fair deal for staff and protects public services.”

Speaking following the meeting Sinn Féin councillor Liam Mackle expressed his party’s “delight” that a majority of councillors supported the deal.

“The past six weeks have been very difficult for everyone in the Borough. We now need to concentrate on recovery,” he explained.

“Throughout this period, the Sinn Féin group have been resolutely focused on getting an agreement that is fair to our valued staff and ratepayers. We believe the deal agreed tonight does just that.

“It targets our lowest paid staff whilst also acknowledging and rewarding all our staff.

“We must now to put our shoulders to the wheel and refocus our minds on the harsh winter ahead and how we, as a council, can support our workers and families.”

In a statement, the Council said: “The agreement reached will see staff on the bottom six pay scales (Scales 1 to 6) of the organisation re-defined and scales adjusted so that the very lowest paid workers will benefit.

“In addition, these staff will receive a one-off cost of living payment of £500. The introduction of these new salary scales will align with the Real Living Wage, therefore improving Council’s ability to attract and retain staff to benefit long-term service delivery.”

In addition, some staff will receive a one-off cost of living payment of £1,100.

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