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Long-running employment dispute nearing an end at Newry Council

A long running employment dispute at a Northern Ireland council could be on the verge of a “broad agreement” after eight months of negotiations.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) has been engaged in Labour Relations Agency (LRA) meetings with trade union members since May following strike action by the GMB, NIPSA, SIPTU and Unite in April.

The local authority employees continue to claim the council has reneged on a commitment to a partnership-based job evaluation process.

In a report on restricted leisure facility opening times, a council officer told elected reps this week in chambers: “The workforce challenges are not just in leisure, but are council wide.

“In relation to opening hours, there is an opportunity for us to look at widening our opening hours.

“However, given our current situation around industrial relations, we are working around that process, once it is complete. And my understanding is that we are nearing a broad agreement on that and members will be updated in due course and we can then move forward on such matters.”

The Local Democracy Service understands that direct talks between unions and council management will now take place this week after many months of the arbitration service facilitating meetings.

A NMDDC spokesperson said: “Talks facilitated by the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) were held on Tuesday, November 14 with the next meeting scheduled to take place on Friday, November 24 between management and Joint Trade Union Sides. As negotiations are still ongoing, the council has no further update at this time.”

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