As inflation rose to a figure of 10.7% in the UK, according to the latest data for the month of November, NI civil service staff have been offered a pay rise of just £522, apart from the lowest paid workers, which is the equivalent of a 1.9% pay rise to a typical member of staff. This has unsurprisingly not gone down too well with union bosses who have branded the offer derisory and insulting to its members. There is a strong possibility that strike action could be just around the corner as a result of this offer.
Pay Offer Made Very Late In The Day
The pay offer has come to the table very late in the day, the budget was only approved by the secretary of state in November, due to the fact that the Executive in Stormont has not been sitting for a number of months now. In an attempt to soften the blow to its staff a Department of Finance spokesperson said the department “recognises and regrets the offer is below what staff and unions will expect in a very challenging year”. This is unlikely to cut any ice with union bosses and of course staff who will have to deal with the cost of living crisis with less money in their pockets.
Bosses Constrained By The Very Difficult Budgetary Position
In a memo to staff, the senior official at the Department of Finance, Neil Gibson, said (as quoted in an article on the BBC News website):
“I know you will be very disappointed that the offer is not much higher.
“It is a matter of deep personal regret that the pay offer is at the level it is.
“I wish the pay offer could have gone much further, however, we are constrained by the very difficult budgetary position.
“The offer is in no sense a reflection of how you and your work are valued by the Northern Ireland Civil Service.”
The civil service staff in Northern Ireland will certainly not be the only workers who will be disappointed with what they are offered in the coming months, particularly it seems in the public sector, where there is a real squeeze on wages in a bid to damp down inflation and curb public spending. The NHS, transport and education, to name but 3, are all looking at strike action as a way of putting pressure on their bosses and the government to improve their pay offers and working conditions. We could well be in for a year of strikes and strife.