Ministers impose 1% pay offer on Northern Ireland Civil Service

Trade union says members will be 'frustrated and angry' about offer that will see pay rise by 1% in 2021-22
Photo: PA

A union representing civil servants in Northern Ireland has said its members will be “extremely frustrated, angry and disappointed” after ministers imposed a pay offer that includes a 1% rise this year.

Under the two-year offer, most civil servants will get a 1% consolidated rise, plus a 1% non-consolidated pay rise for 2020-21, and a 1% increase for 2021-22.

Finance minister Conor Murphy said the offer, which will be implemented as the Treasury imposes a pay freeze on the home civil service, “strikes a difficult balance between recognising the hard work of staff while ensuring sufficient budget is available for essential public services”.

But when the officer was revealed in April, the NIPSA trade union called it a “retrograde step” and warned could trigger industrial action. Its members then rejected the offer in May.

Staff will continue to get progression pay rises as normal, and NIPSA said through negotiations it had managed to shorten all pay scales from AA to grade 6 by one point.

In an open letter, NIPSA general secretary Alison Millar wrote: “I appreciate members will be extremely frustrated, angry and disappointed that the minister [Murphy] did not listen to the affordable arguments put forward by NIPSA on your behalf.

She said NIPSA’s civil service executive committee will meet next week to “consider in more detail the minister’s response”.

The pay deal will increase a higher weighting for staff at the lowest rung on the civil service pay ladder. Those at the administrative assistant grade and equivalent will therefore get a 3% non-consolidated rise for 2020, rather than the 1% awarded to other Northern Ireland Civil Service staff.

Last year’s pay rise will be backdated to August, with arrears paid in officials’ July pay packets. NIPSA said it is “unclear” when the 2021 increase will be implemented, but it “understands this is unlikely at this stage to be implemented in the August salaries”.

Alongside the pay rise, the NICS is introducing changes to working conditions that includes an increase in paternity pay from two days to two full weeks.

And further reforms are likely. Murphy said. “The pandemic has presented challenges but it has also presented opportunities in terms of new ways of working,” he said.

“It is important that we now look at reforms which help with the affordability of future pay awards whilst also improving the delivery of public service.”

The pay rise will cost £44m over two years, amounting to 4.8% of the total NICS paybill, the Department of Finance said.

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