Northern Ireland civil servants offered 5% pay rise and £1,500 lump sum

Strike action taken "has brought this offer to the table”, union chief says
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Civil servants in Northern Ireland have received a long-awaited pay offer that would see most officials receive a 5% wage rise and a one-off payment of £1,500.

If unions accept the offer, which was signed off by finance minister Caoimhe Archibald, it could bring  an end to industrial action that saw civil servants take part in a mass walkout last month.

Under the offer, all “eligible satisfactory performers” would move one point up their pay band, with pay rises backdated to 1 August 2023. If this results in any staff receiving a less-than-5% increase, they will receive a non-consolidated payment topping up their pay rise to 5% of their wage as of 31 July 2023.

Anyone earning more than the top of their pay band will receive an increase worth 5% of the pay-band maximum, which could mean they receive a pay rise lower than 5%.

All NICS staff will also receive a one-off payment of £1,500, much like the equivalent cost-of-living payment awarded to civil servants in England, Scotland and Wales. The non-consolidated, non-pensionable lump sum will be prorated for part-time staff.

Pay at the lowest grade, administrative assistant, will rise to £23,177 to keep pace with the living wage. All other points on the civil service pay scales will increase by 5%.

NICS director of people and organisational development Jill Minne confirmed the details of the offer in a letter to staff yesterday, adding that it had been formally put to unions following recent negotiations. “Trade union side has advised they will consult members as soon as possible,” she said.

'Strike action has brought this offer to the table'

Public sector pay is one of the first issues to have landed on the new finance minister's desk after power-sharing was restored a month ago. Before that, unions had been calling on ministers in Westminster to release funds to address rising dissatisfaction over pay, which has fallen in real terms in recent years.

Last year, civil servants were awarded a flat-rate payment of £552, which the NIPSA trade union said was worth less than 1% for many staff.

NIPSA's civil service executive committee has recommended its members accept the offer, which has now been sent out to its branches for consultation.

The union’s general secretary, Carmel Gates, said she had “no doubt the strike action taken by NIPSA members has brought this offer to the table”. 

“I believe members will welcome an offer that, for the first time in decades, is above the level of inflation.  I believe the offer acknowledges the key role civil servants play in keeping the fabric of society functioning,” she said.

“The £1,500 lump sum also goes some way towards clawing back the ground lost by the derisory £552 award imposed last year.

"This deal, which for the first time in years has no strings attached, begins to set right the wrongs our members endured because of sustained and historic low pay."

She said the offer would be a "good starting point on which to base negotiations going forward so that civil servants are properly valued for the work they do".

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