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Civil Servants aligned to public service trade union NIPSA are to proceed with strike action tomorrow over a continuing battle on pay and terms and conditions of employment. Picket lines will be present at public buildings in Derry from early tomorrow morning, including Foyle Jobs and Benefits Office on Asylum Road, Carlisle House and Orchard House on Foyle Street. The protests by civil servants will culminate in a rally at the City Hotel at 10.30am. At last week’s monthly meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council a motion put forward by People Before Profit (PBP) calling on the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Finance to provide a ‘fair and just settlement’ of the issue was backed by political representatives. PBP representative, Councillor Sean Harkin told the Derry News that civil servants have been left with no option but to go on strike and that his party fully support the action. Speaking to the Derry News, Councillor Harkin said: “These workers have been forced to take this action, but it really shouldn’t have come to this. “Civil servants have been offered a 1.25 per cent pay rise at a time when inflation stands at 2 per cent. This is the third year in a row the Department of Finance have tried this when 53 per cent of civil servants across the North are earning below the average wage. “People might be surprised to hear this because they think civil service jobs are well paid but we know of an increasing number of workers using food banks to make ends meet. These issues added to complete frustration have led to this point. “The Department of Finance has the power to resolve this issue, it does not need a functioning Executive at Stormont to resolve this. In comparison to what RHI cost the public purse, resolving this would be a drop in the ocean.” Mr Harkin also warned that a similar mood of frustration with pay and conditions within the health sector and that could also lead to strike action. “I am calling on all political parties to attend the picket lines tomorrow and Derry Trades Council are also supporting this action.” Local NIPSA representative Ruaidhri O’Sandair told the Derry News that Friday’s action also goes beyond the issue of pay. “The action is also about terms and conditions of employment. For example, recruitment for management positions have gone out to external agencies. The result has been that internal promotion has been taken away and is now based on psychometric testing. “Human Resource functions are also been placed on line managers with the result that they are no dealing with more work for less pay without a chance for promotion.” Almost 70 per cent of NIPSA members across Northern Ireland voted in favour of tomorrow’s strike action and union representatives have made it clear that similar action will be taken if required.
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