trade union umbrella body has warned of a “carnival of industrial unrest” in Northern Ireland this autumn if the pay of public sector workers in the region falls behind the rest of the UK.
The NIC/Ictu was responding after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak offered public sector workers in England pay rises of up to 7%.
Public sector pay decisions in Northern Ireland are devolved to ministers at Stormont, but the powersharing institutions are currently not operating due to a DUP protest at post-Brexit trading arrangements.
In addition, Stormont departments are facing substantial budget pressures and it has been previously stated that any new money for pay deals which passes to Northern Ireland through Barnett consequentials would have to be used to pay off a Stormont overspend from previous years.
The chairman of the BMA in Northern Ireland, Dr Tom Black, has called for an urgent meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris and for Stormont to return to ensure a “full pay restoration” in the region.
Health workers, teachers and some civil servants in Northern Ireland have been involved in industrial action in recent months amid ongoing disputes about wages and conditions.
The Prime Minister said on Thursday he had accepted the recommendations from pay review bodies, including 6.5% increases for teachers in England for 2023-24.
Junior doctors will receive 6% rises, along with an additional consolidated £1,250 increase.
Hospital consultants will receive a 6% rise.
There is to be a 7% rise for police officers and prison officers in the operational bands will receive an increase of 7%, with larger rises for support grades and 5% for managers and governors.
Senior civil servants in England will receive a 5.5% rise.
As the pay awards were announced, a tweet from NIC/Ictu stated: “Improved pay offers for PS workers in Eng/Wales.
“What about workers here?
“Will NI public servants continue to fall further behind?
“If that is allowed to happen then autumn will be a carnival of industrial unrest.
“Can we afford that?”
We have written to the Secretary of State and all of the local party leaders to clearly and categorically state that this situation is completely unacceptable
Londonderry GP Dr Black said: “The BMA in Northern Ireland is deeply concerned at the budget situation in Northern Ireland.
“We have been told that there is no funding for a pay uplift to be awarded.
“We have written to the Secretary of State and all of the local party leaders to clearly and categorically state that this situation is completely unacceptable.”
He added: “We will continue to seek an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State.
“We urge our local politicians to get back to work and engage with the BMA as soon as the assembly is restored to ensure funding is ringfenced so the uplift can be paid as soon as possible, but to also make a commitment to full pay restoration in Northern Ireland.”