Church and community group litter picks across the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough are undermining strike action, a union leader has said.
GMB’s Alan Perry, speaking to the BBC’s Evening Extra programme, agreed that community intervention was unhelpful to their cause but admitted “all communities will do what they can to assist and obviously make their area look clean and tidy”.
Mr Perry, who said talks between unions and senior council management will resume today (Friday), said there were council employees to do this work if “an acceptable offer” was made available.
DUP Councillor, Mark Baxter, said the Emmanuel Church, who carried out a litter pick in Lurgan should be commended for their efforts.
“Over the last three weeks, with the lack of cleansing, [our town centres] are just in a dire state,” he told the programme.
“The streets are really bad; people are stockpiling waste in their homes which has huge health and safety implications.”
He added: “I pay tribute, particularly Emmanuel Church in Lurgan, who got together and cleaned the place up, and made a really good job of it – they have to be commended.”
Councillor Baxter said staff want a fair deal and that he wants a “fair deal for everyone” and “most importantly we need a fair deal for our businesses and ratepayers” adding that “there is quite a good deal on the table currently”.
Sinn Féin councillor Bróna Haughey said it was a difficult situation.
She told the programme: “I’m sure the church groups wanted to do something for the community and clean it up and I’m sure they didn’t think it would have an impact on the unions.
Talks to end the impasse are ongoing today.
Meanwhile, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have been informed that four unions are balloting their members on potential strike action over pay and conditions.