Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors approve pay increase

Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors have approved a three per cent pay rise for themselves despite opposition from the SDLP and Sinn Fein.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 9:55 am

An increase of three per cent will see the elected representatives pocket a sum higher than a proposed “meagre” one per cent for public sector workers.

Speaking at a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council on Monday evening, Dunsilly SDLP Councillor Ryan Wilson, a trade union representative, said: “Nurses are expecting a meagre one per cent for putting their lives on the line over the past 12 months.

“I think it would be wrong for us as councillors to vote on a policy that would see our pay rise by three per cent.

Mossley Mill.

“It is only a matter of months ago  we as a council were in the grip of making 73 staff members redundant (click here). We have to pay off a number of staff this month.

“Members have been lambasted, our party, in terms of financial management of our council. To give ourselves a three per cent pay rise on the back of everything that has happened in the past 12 months is utterly wrong.

“It is immoral to do so. I would ask members to reflect on what has happened and I would encourage you to vote against it.”

The Royal College of Nursing has launched a ‘Fair Pay for Nursing’ campaign seeking a 12.5 per cent pay increase for all nursing staff.

Alliance Councillor Billy Webb rounded on the SDLP member saying: “I find it absolutely astounding that a union rep is arguing against a pay increase that has been independently set by a government department.

“If Cllr Wilson feels so strongly, he can refuse it himself.

“The fact is our remuneration is set by a Department. We are all working extremely hard.

“I accept others and the medical profession have had a tough time but councillors have been involved in so many issues. I am working practically full-time at nights.

“To say this increase is an excess is laughable. I find his attitude to this astonishing.”

The increase was approved after 30 councillors voted in favour with eight against.

Their basic allowance will rise from £15,071 to £15,486 per annum. A special responsibility allowance of £13,797 is available to the Mayor, £9,021 to the Deputy Mayor as well as payments to all committee Chairs and Vice Chairs, starting at £6,368 for the Planning Committee Chair and £3,183 for Vice Chair.

A dependants’ carers’ allowance of up to £927 monthly for specialist care will be available.

A mileage allowance of up to 62 pence per mile by car is also payable.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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