30/01/2004

Minister reaffirms tough stance on civil service pay

Following a meeting held yesterday between senior officials of Northern Ireland Departments and representatives of NIPSA to discuss the on-going industrial action by civil servants, Minister for Finance and Personnel Ian Pearson has reffirmed a tough stance over pay.

Mr Pearson said: “The pay award, which is now being paid to staff, is higher than the majority of increases in the private sector this year and higher than the pattern of pay increases in Whitehall Departments. We did offer to negotiate with NIPSA on how the 3.67% increase should be applied, but they refused. Nevertheless, we are committed to resolving this dispute and it was on this basis that we engaged in talks with NIPSA and remain willing to do so.”

Departments have taken steps to minimise any adverse impact by the industrial action to the public and normal business has been largely unaffected.

The Minister added: “As a government, our highest priority is the delivery of improved public services and we cannot allow excessive public sector pay rises to jeopardise that. We are taking a very firm approach to pay this year and we are applying strict controls. The continuance of this action by NIPSA will only hit those who need Government services most.”

On the effects of the industrial action, the Minister said: “Our primary concern is to ensure continuity of services to the public and I have asked management in all Departments to take appropriate and proportionate actions for that purpose.”

(SP)

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