24 August 2011
Following on from Emergency Resolution No 1 adopted at the 2011 NIPSA Annual Conference in June this year the General Council has been giving detailed consideration to the arrangements for conducting a statutory industrial action ballot of NIPSA members.
It is clear that the UK Coalition Government intends to continue with its austerity programme at the heart of which is an attack on public services and the pensions, pay and jobs of public servants. In setting the timetable for an industrial action ballot the General Council took into account a number of factors. These included assessing the most appropriate dates for holding a ballot and the General Council has consciously avoided commencing any ballot during the months of July/August whenever many members would be on holiday.
This consideration of the timing of the ballot also took account of the position of our colleagues in the UK unions, in particular PCS who along with the University Colleges Union, National Union of Teachers and Association of Teachers and Lecturers have already engaged in a one day strike on 30 June past.
The NIPSA industrial action ballot is scheduled to commence in or around 30 September 2011 and close on 24 October 2011. This is to enable NIPSA members to take action in the week beginning 7 November 2011 to coincide with further action by our colleagues in the UK unions, and PCS in particular. However this timetable may need to be adjusted to ensure maximum cooperation with our UK colleagues.
In order to secure a positive vote in favour of industrial action NIPSA is taking the following measures.
All branches are asked to campaign vigorously among branch members to ensure they vote “yes” to industrial action in the ballot. Contact should be made with members to appraise them of the plans for the ballot. This can be done most effectively if branch committees meet and plan how best they can engage with members on this issue. It needs to be borne in mind that in the NI Civil Service Management Side will use the Facilities Agreement to block the use of NICS facilities and time to promote the planning and organisation of industrial action.
A suite of leaflets covering the issues which are in dispute are being finalised and these will be available to branches for distribution to members. Posters and other material will also be available.
NIPSA HQ will be convening meetings of the geographical networks of NIPSA activists to discuss how activists across the different sectors in specific geographical areas can contribute towards delivering a “yes” vote in the ballot.
In the lead up to the ballot arrangements will be made to leaflet buildings where NIPSA members work. This will supplement the work of NIPSA branch representatives who work at these locations.
The purpose of this circular is primarily to alert branches to the timetable for balloting which has been determined by the General Council and to ask branches to commence the progress of increasing the awareness of members about the ballot process and the issues in dispute.
While the dispute arises from the Coalition Government’s attacks on public spending and the rolling out of the cuts in Northern Ireland by the NI Assembly, the specific issues on which NIPSA is balloting are the attacks on members’ pensions, the freeze on public sector pay and the thousands of job losses across the public sector in Northern Ireland.
The ballot will include all NIPSA members in the public sector although consideration is also being given to the inclusion of a number of non public sector organisations which are covered by public sector pay and/or pension arrangements.