Agenda and minutes

Special Meeting, Special Meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council
Tuesday 17 December 2019 4.00 pm

Venue: Guildhall, Derry. View directions


No. Item


Notice and Summons for Meeting

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The Chief Executive read the Notice and Summons for the Meeting.




Member Attendance and Apologies

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The Chief Executive took the roll call and apologies were received from Aldermen McClintock, McCready and Ramsey and Councillors Dobbins, Kelly, Logue, McCann, McGuire and McKinney.



Webcasting Notice

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The Mayor read the webcasting notice.



Declaration of Members' Interests

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The following declaration of interests were noted accordingly:


Councillor Harkin, Member of UNISON Community Branch and Derry Trades Union Council.


Councillor Duffy, UNISON Member.


Councillor Jackson, NIPSA Member.


Councillor Gallagher, Strabane Area Trade Union Council Member.


Councillor Ferguson, CWU Member and Royal Mail.


Alderman McKane, UNISON Member and Joint Chair of Fermanagh Branch.


Councillor Hunter, Royal College of Nursing presentation.




Chairperson's Business

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There was no Chairperson’s Business.


Presentations from Representatives of Public Service Trade Unions on key issues affecting workers' rights, service delivery and an update on any industrial action.

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The Mayor welcomed everyone to the Meeting and in particular the Trade Union representatives.  She advised Members that no decisions would be taken at the meeting today and that any motions should be submitted for the Full Council Meeting scheduled to take place on 30 January 2020.


She invited each of the Trade Unions to make their presentation to Members, after which there would be an opportunity for Members to comment or seek points of clarification if they so wished.



Communication Workers Union (CWU) (Postal Workers) - Mr David Kennedy, Northern Ireland Regional Secretary pdf icon PDF 249 KB

Additional documents:


Mr David Kennedy, Northern Ireland Regional Secretary, Communication Workers Union (CWU) provided a presentation, a copy of which was previously circulated to Members.


The key points were as follows:


·                    Royal Mail was established over 500 years ago, it was sold off in 2013 by the then business secretary, Vince Cable MP.  It was floated on the stock market at 330p, the share price rose more than one third on the first day of trading, costing the taxpayer a potential £750 million gain.  Royal mails prospectus before its privatisation put its entire freehold property at a value of £787 million yet the sale of just three central London sites netted Royal mail over £400 million proof if it was needed that Royal Mail was sold “on the cheap”.



·                The closure of 2,500 Post Offices in 2013 marked the start by Royal Mail to close down its high street presence.  Thousands of jobs were lost as post offices were moved into petrol stations and small convenience stores.  The cost to the communities was a high price; no longer a meeting place for those collecting pensions or buying stamps, pensions were paid into a back denying access to cash.  A further 85 Crown Post Offices were identified across the UK, 70 sold to WH Smith (voted worst retailer in UK) a number are in NI, two in Belfast to be closed and others to be franchised and sold off, Derry, Belfast, Antrim, Bangor and Ard’s in scope.


·                During this time the Communication Workers Union balloted its members to secure a “fair deal”.  This was called the “Four Pillars”.  Its aim was to secure a lasting pension solution for all Members.  Extension of all current agreements.  Drive to 35 hour working week.  Securing long term growth and pay.  This took almost two years to agree with the company and was finally agreed in 2018.  Moya Greene stood down from her role as CEO in 2018 and the reins were handed to Rico Back, with an enticing offer of just under £6 million, he no longer wants to recognise previous arrangements or to cooperate with the CWU.  Mr Back was previously responsible for the break up of German parcels and established a new company GLS.


·                As a result of the actions of Rico Back in his refusal to deal with the Communications Workers Union, we launched a ballot of Members, they in turn overwhelmingly voted for industrial action, with a return of almost 75% and 97% of those in favour.  Royal Mail took an injunction against the strike ballot and were successful, the High Court Judge Mr Justice Swift held that was “a subversion of the ballot process”.  We believe that it is the intention of Royal Mail to privatise Parcel Force, thereby weakening the business model. Further proof of attempts by management to attach workers’ rights is the Ofcom review, due to take place in 2022, brought forward to 2020.


·                     CWU believe that there is intention from Royal Mail to cease mail delivery on  ...  view the full minutes text for item SC57/19


Royal College of Nursing (RCN) - Mr Andrew Doherty, Vice Chair, RCN Northern Ireland Board pdf icon PDF 719 KB

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Mr Kevin Bell, RCN (Northern Ireland Board) provided a presentation, a copy of which was previously circulated to Members.


The key points were as follows:


                        Safe Nurse Staffing


·                2,790 unfilled nursing posts (13%) across Northern Ireland in September 2019, compared with 1,533 in March 2017

·                £52 million spent on agency nurses to try to fill the gaps during 2018-2019.  This figure has also doubled over the last two years.

·                Escalating waiting times and waiting lists.


Workforce Pressures


·                73% of Northern Ireland Nurses work beyond their contracted hours each week.  One-third do so several times each week.

·                     48% of those who work additional hours do so unpaid.

·                Two-thirds (67%) of nurses in Northern Ireland feel under too much pressure at work.

·                Six out of ten nurses say they are too busy to provide the levels of care they would like to provide.

·                The same proportion say that too much of their time is taken up on non-nursing duties.

·                Only 35% of nurses in Northern Ireland say they are able to balance their work and home lives.



·                A newly-qualified nurse in Northern Ireland earns £1,875 less than Scotland and £1,419 less than in England and Wales.

·                     For a specialist nurse, the difference can be as much as £4,677.

·                Many nursing assistants in Northern Ireland earn less than the real living wage of £9.00 per hour.

·                     Over one-quarter of Northern Ireland nurses have a second job.

·                     70% of Northern Ireland nurses feel undervalued.




·                96% of RCN members voted to support industrial action.

·                92% of RCN members voted to support industrial action including strike action.


Industrial Action


·                     Industrial action (in the form of “working to rule”) began on 3 December and continued on 10 and 11 December.

·                     Strike action begins tomorrow (18 December)

·                     Further dates have been confirmed for the New Year


RCN Demands


·                     Effective measures to tackle the nurse staffing crisis in Northern Ireland.

·                     Pay parity with England and Wales within the 2019-2020 pay award.



UNISON (Health Care) - Mr Joe McCusker, Regional Organiser pdf icon PDF 148 KB

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Mr Joe Mc Cusker, Regional Organiser UNISON attended the meeting and provided a presentation, a copy of which was previously circulated to Members.


The key points were as follows:


·                UNISON members working in the health service commenced industrial action on Monday 25 November. UNISON is the largest union across the health and social care system, with over 25,000 members working across almost all staff categories. Registered nurses are our largest single block of members.


·                Many of our members are the lowest paid workers, but they are the first to take a stand against the crisis in our health service that is not of their own making.


·                Phase 1 of our industrial action is for a 3-week period up to and including 18 December. We will be joined by other unions (RCN, NIPSA and UNITE) in a day of strike action across the whole health service.


·                Health workers are not taking this industrial action lightly. They have been pushed to the brink. We have been in discussions with the Department of Health and employers since the beginning of 2019 to try and reach an agreement. The most recent proposal put to us by the Department of Health on 5th December was rejected by trade unions as it was insufficient and would not lead to the restoration of pay parity.



·                Across all the HSC Trusts, our members have been engaging with management on the impact that the industrial action and to agree derogations or exemptions for certain services. We have always been clear that the industrial action will cause disruption, but our members continue to do their best to ensure that life and limb is protected during this period.


·                The reality is that the crisis in our health service did not begin on 25 November and has not been caused by industrial action. The crisis is a direct result of years of cuts and poor workforce planning.


·                Health workers in Northern Ireland are on lower pay than health workers in England, Scotland and Wales. This is unfair and is causing a staffing crisis within our health service.


·                There are over 7,000 vacancies right across the health service, with thousands of vacancies in nursing. We have demanded that the Department ensure safe staffing levels across the whole system.


·                Spending on agency workers to fill the gaps in the health service is growing rapidly. Public money is going to private agencies instead of being invested in permanent staff. The cost of agency staffing has exceeded £200 million in the last year. Waiting lists are growing longer and longer and are at crisis point.


·                The pressure of working in an understaffed health service is making people sick. Sickness absence rates right across the health service are rising. In the 2019 staff survey, 47% of workers said they felt unwell as a result of work related stress. 35% have thought about leaving the service.


·                Workers in Northern Ireland deserve to be paid the same as workers in Glasgow, Cardiff or Manchester.


·                It is our  ...  view the full minutes text for item SC59/19


NIPSA (Civil Servants and Health Care) - Ms Alison Millar, General Secretary pdf icon PDF 297 KB

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Northern Ireland Civil Service


·                Department of Finance Permanent Secretary set Public Sector Pay Remit – 31 October 2019.

·           Remit for NICS to emanate from this.

·                Means – 1% increase, anything above this up to 2% - must be paid for by efficiencies.

·           NIPSA’s pay claim:

o      Above inflation pay increase

o      Pay restoration to address 10 years of austerity

o      Shortening of pay scales


Health Sector


·           Ballot for Pay Parity and Safe Staffing

·                What does parity mean?

·                Patient Safety and Pay Justice:


- Receptionist – A&E – Band 2

- Administrator – Band 5

- Senior Social Worker – Band 6


  What is needed and what can Council do?


·                Need your active support

·             Not just letter writing

·                Active pressure on NICS Permanent Secretary

and HOCS to break the deadlock

·                Intervention in the absence of an Assembly by Secretary of State

·                Otherwise disputes will escalate across many areas of the public sector



National Association of Schoolmasters and Women Teachers (NASUWT) and Ulster Teachers Union (UTU) - Mr Justin McCamphill, National Official, NASUWT and Ms Jacquie White, General Secretary (UTU) pdf icon PDF 249 KB

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Apologies from Mr Justin Mc Camphill, National Association of Schoolmasters and Women Teachers (NASUWT) were noted. Ms Jacqui White, Ulster Teachers Union (UTU) provided a presentation, a copy of which was previously circulated to Members.


The key points were as follows:


Pay since 2011


Since 2011 and the introduction of pay freezes and subsequent paycaps, pay increases for teachers have been as follows:


·         2011-12 0%

·         2012-13 0%

·         2013-14 0%

·         2014-15 1%

·         2015-16 0%

·         2016-17 1%


In real terms pay is now 20% behind inflation since 2010.


Education Budgets


·         According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) Northern Ireland has faced the highest school spending cuts per pupil in the UK over the past decade.

·         Northern Ireland has seen an 11% cut in real-terms school spending per pupil since 2009.

·         That compares to cuts of 8% in England, cuts of 6% in Wales and cuts of 2% in Scotland.

·         In 2010/11 – 19037 teachers – 32874 pupils.

·         In 2018/19 – 18338 teachers – 346979 pupils.

·         These pressures have increased workload exponentially.


Industrial Action


·         All teacher unions are now in industrial action.  This has included strike action for some but all are now on action short of strike action.

·         Almost every teacher follows their unions action short of strike action instructions.

·         These actions forced the employer to the table and after 2 years of negotiations a provisional agreement was reached on pay and workload in June.

·         This is all now at risk as the Department of Finance haven’t approved or funded the deal.




University and College Union (UCU) - Dr Adrian Grant, Lecturer in Policy (Ulster University) and Anti-Casualisation Officer for UCU pdf icon PDF 157 KB

Additional documents:


Dr Adrian Grant, Lecturer in Policy (Ulster University) and Anti-Casualisation Officer for UCU and a Member of Derry Trades Council, provided a presentation, a copy of which was previously circulated to Members.


The key points were as follows:


Major Issues Facing University Workers in 2019


·                     Unsustainable Workloads

·                     Casualisation

·                     Equality

·                     Pay and Pensions




University staff in UK work on average 2 days unpaid per week

·                     Pressure to publish (REF)

·                     Impact

·                     Funding

·                     Marketisation of HE (ie. rising student expectations)

·                     Growing number of students/decreasing numbers of staff




·                     Proliferation of hourly-paid, term time only and zero hours contracts

·                     70% of researchers on fixed-term contracts

·                     97% wish to be moved to more permanent contracts

·                     Impacts on mental health, family life, gender equality and numerous other negative issues reported by staff




·                     Women paid 15.9% less than men (2018)

·                     BME workers paid 9% less than white workers (2017/18)

·                     Black workers paid 14% less than white workers

·                     White staff at Professor Level (1 in 9)

·                     Black staff at Professor Level (1 in 33)


Pay and Pensions


·                     Pay for university workers has fallen by 17% in real terms since 2009

·                     Rise in VC pay and number earning over £100k

·                     Increased pension contribution for reduced benefit






Northern Ireland Fire Brigade Union - Mr Phil Millar, Regional Secretary pdf icon PDF 400 KB

Additional documents:


Mr Phil Millar, Regional Secretary, NIFBU, provided a presentation, a copy of which was previously circulated to Members.


The key points were as follows:


Budget Background


·                     Revenue Resource Limit (RRL) in 2011/2012 was £81.6m

·                     In the current year (2019/2020) RRL £74.1m

·                     Fall in RRL of £7.5m over 7 years of almost 9.2% since 2011/12

·                     NIFRS are managing a budgetary pressure (shortfall) of £3.2m

·                    NIFRS RRL accounts for less than 1.5% of DHSSPS overall Revenue    expenditure

·                    NIFRS is one of the higher performing FRS’s in the UK with a cost per head of population less than that in Scotland or Wales, our two best comparators.  NI (£40.02) Scotland (£47.78) and Wales (£47.14)

·                    NIFRS is reducing whole-time head count to deal with the revenue budgetary pressures.  The FBU and former CFOs are on record as stating this would be catastrophic for emergency fire and rescue cover in NI.


Revenue Cuts – Impacts on DCSDC (Castlederg)


·                    Castlederg Fire Station covers one of the biggest and most rural station areas in Norther Ireland

·                    A review planned to reduce from 2 fire engines down to 1, however this review is yet to officially start

·                    A 2 pump station requires in excess of 20 personnel.  Castlederg have 14 with 1 Member of personnel off on long term sick and 3 to retire

·                    8 people are on a waiting list that could start immediately but NIFRS refuse to do so and the list is soon to expire

·                    Fire Fighters are contracted to provide up to 100 hours a week to protect the community of Castlederg and beyond

·                    Due to the lack of firefighters, some now give almost every single hour (168 hours) of the week to the fire service so that fire appliances can respond

·                    This is unsustainable and is a danger to firefighter health and safety and also the community of Castlederg



Revenue Cuts – Impacts on DCSDC (Strabane)


·                         Strabane Fire Station has been identified as requiring quick response times due to the risk in its area

·                         This would mean whole time firefighters being stationed there 8am-6pm Mon-Fri with at least 5 on duty

·                         The station has been refurbished at some cost to accommodate the necessary changes

·                         This plan has been stalled with the intention not to proceed

·                         When you take into account cuts to Enniskillen, Omagh and Derry/L’Derry – the west of the Bann has been severely impacted upon


Revenue Cuts – Impacts on DCSDC (Derry/L’Derry)


·                         Derry/L’Derry aerial appliance used for incidents in high rise buildings is no longer immediately available due to crewing reductions

·                         This appliance would be critical in the event of a Grenfell or Primark type fire

·                         Personnel have to return to station to get it or leave their fire appliance on station and take the aerial appliance to the incident

·                         This further depletes fire cover by removing a fire appliance from a potentially major incident

·                         Derry/L’Derry has in excess of 30 premises considered to be highrise (5 floors or above)

·                         Additionally, Crescent Link has lost 8 personnel impacting on water rescue  ...  view the full minutes text for item SC63/19