Department for Infrastructure seeking to minimise disruption as strike action set to start
The Department for Infrastructure has issued a statement on Wednesday (19 April) saying that public services for which it is responsible will experience disruption over the next seven days as a result of all out strike action by a number of trade unions.
Strike action by industrial civil servants is set to commence from midnight 20th April and continue to 26th April.
A spokesperson for the Department said:
"While contingency arrangements are in place, to limit potential impacts as much as possible, this strike action will affect many of our routine and emergency response functions including:
Repair of serious infrastructure defects such as manhole collapse or potholes;
Significantly reducing our capacity to respond to flood emergencies;
Significant delays in responding to calls to the flood incident line;
Prioritisation of assistance to those incidents with most impact to life and property;
Response and clear-up operation when there are incidents on the road such as oil spills or unexpected debris;
Drainage infrastructure clearing and cleansing.
"Unfortunately the Department will be unable to provide the minimum number of crew needed to safely operate the Strangford Lough Ferry Service and has no option but to suspend services during this period of industrial action."
The decision to stage further industrial action by members of Unite and GMB follows ballots of 91 percent and 80 percent in favour of strike respectively – workers will join wider civil service industrial action involving NIPSA and PCS to "secure a fair pay increase".
Unite and GMB members employed in the industrial civil service, including the Roads Service, the Forestry Service, the Rivers Agency and the Strangford to Portaferry ferry service will participate in the action.
Unite states the week-long strike action is likely to "paralyse activities" across these services.
The union also says "despite inflation running at the highest levels in a generation, industrial civil service workers are being offered a consolidated pay increase of only £552 for the current year".
The industrial action by civil servants will also overlap with strike action planned by education workers.
Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham expressed her union’s full support for the striking workers. She said:
“The offer of a bare £552 extra a year is a slap in the face for those responsible for the maintenance of vital public services and infrastructure. That’s pennies more than ten pound a week and will do nothing for workers feeling the impact of the worst cost of living crisis in living memory.
“Roads, Forestry, Rivers, Strangford lough ferry and other civil service workers in Unite are taking a first week strike action. The employers need to recognise that this is just a start. These workers are determined to win a proper and respectful pay increase. They do so in the full knowledge that this union stands full square behind them. “
Alan Perry Regional Organiser for GMB added:
“The workers taking part in this strike action are responsible for the maintenance of roads, rivers and forests. This strike will have a huge impact on a range of public services.
“This strike action occurs alongside that being taken by other public sector workers including across the civil service and in the education sector. Workers are demanding a fair pay increase to protect themselves and their families from surging prices. The impact that these strikes will have is entirely avoidable – we need to see quick action from employers to meet fully the pay expectations of our members.”