Business groups call for deal on bin strike
Retail NI, Portadown, Banbridge and Lisburn Chambers of Commerce have jointly urged for agreement to reached in the current Council Services Strike in Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
In a joint statement Retail NI CEO Glyn Roberts, and the Presidents of Portadown, Banbridge, and Lisburn Chambers, Adrian Farrell, Michael Donaghy and Katrina Collins said: “It is not for us to take sides in any industrial dispute, but it is our responsibility to point out the damage that this strike is doing to our respective members’ businesses and our town centres.
“Overflowing bins and rubbish on our streets are the very last things our members, consumers and high streets need as we face the most serious economic challenge in a generation.
“We would urge the Councils and Trade Unions to go the extra mile to secure an agreement as this situation cannot continue any longer.
“Hopefully then any secured deal could be replicated throughout all Council areas in Northern Ireland to prevent any further disruption.”
Workers, including bin refuse collectors, have been on strike for over two weeks in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (ABC) council area.
Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council staff are due to join strike action after a ‘breakdown’ in talks between unions and the council, with industrial action due to begin on Tuesday 6 September.
“We do this as a last resort and we genuinely want to find a resolution. If the council can come to us with a resolution that averts industrial action, we are more than willing to sit down, talk and try to reach a resolution,” said Unite Regional Officer, Kieran Ellison.
Three unions are joined in strike action, including Unite, GMB and NIPSA. They say ABC Council has not put forward an acceptable pay offer.
“The majority of our members have worked for the council for a very long time. They take great pride in the job that they do, so obviously to be in this situation is not nice but they realise they have to do it. At the end of the day, the public’s anger should be re-directed at the employer,” said GMB Regional Officer, Alan Perry.
The council says two cost of living payments have been offered, as well as an extra day’s holiday.
“Unions have yet to ballot their members on this offer. I know further discussions are taking place even tomorrow and out of that meeting I hope unions can take it to their members so that we can move towards ending this industrial action,” said ABC Council Alderman Mark Baxter.