Pay offer to civil servants in Northern Ireland an ‘insult’

A pay offer to civil servants in Northern Ireland has been described as an “insult” by a trade union.

The offer includes bringing up the pay of the lowest-paid staff to the Living Wage Foundation rates of £10.90 an hour or £21,053 annually.

All other eligible staff are to receive a consolidated increase of £552.

It also includes contractual performance-related progression.

Following the collapse of devolved government at Stormont, the pay offer was made possible by Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris passing a budget from Westminster in the absence of local ministers.

A Department of Finance spokesman said they shared the frustration of colleagues about the delays in implementing a pay award for 2022.

“The department recognises and regrets the pay offer is below what staff and unions will expect in a very challenging year for the cost of living,” they said.

“Unfortunately, the budget position does not provide any additional scope to offer a higher pay award.

“The department hopes this pay award can be agreed as a matter of urgency to ensure colleagues see their pay increase as soon as possible.”

They added that the offer will cost about £26.8million or 2.7% of the pay bill and is affordable, as required by the public sector pay guidance.

The trade union Nipsa described the offer of £552 as “without doubt the most offensive and derisory offer that civil servants have ever received”.

They said the offer represents a pay cut for every civil servant and is recommending it is rejected.

Nipsa deputy general secretary Maria Morgan said: “If we wish to force the hand of the Government, which is coming under pressure from other trade unions, then civil servants now need to join the action by those workers.

“If we want a fair pay rise, we will have to be in the fight.

“For that reason, Nipsa is recommending rejection of the offer and are proposing that we ballot for industrial action.

“The industrial action is likely to take the form of strike action and action short of strike action.”