A backlog of almost 4,000 repairs and improvements needed by Housing Executive tenants has been further impacted after eleven private-sector maintenance contractors withdrew from outsourced contracts.
Meanwhile contracts delivered in-house by the Housing Executive’s Direct Labour Organisation have been highly impacted by the current strike action which is close to entering a fourth month.
Unite the union said it welcomed the offer by newly-appointed chair of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Nicole Lappin, to engage directly with the trade union.
Ms Lappin spoke to striking workers in Craigavon on Monday.
Workers are on the thirteenth week of strike action seeking to win a cost of living pay increase.
Almost 400 disabled tenants are awaiting needed adaptions and approximately 400 further housing units are unoccupied as the needed ‘change of occupancy’ work has not been conducted.
Unite General Secretary pledged national union support in the battle: “Our members are determined to secure a cost-of-living increase and will stand out all winter to win if need be. NIHE must provide a cost of living pay increase and end the suffering of both workers and tenants.”
Unite Regional Officer for the workforce, Michael Keenan, challenged senior management at the Housing Executive: “The new NIHE Board Chair today indicated her willingness to engage with the unions. This is welcome and must happen quickly but what is needed is real urgency by Housing Executive managers in the LRA-mediated negotiations.
“This strike and the recent withdrawal of eleven private contractors is having a huge impact on tenants’ welfare but there appears to be no urgency on the part of the Housing Executive.
“Our members can’t and won’t accept a bare 1.75% increase at a time of crushing cost of living pressures. They have no option but to fight to secure a cost-of-living increase and will stand out all winter to win if necessary. NIHE management must show respect to tenants and workers – they need to clear their diaries and come to the negotiating table to end this dispute.”