Northern Ireland Strike Wave Addressed in HR Policy Global Member Meeting

By Wenchao Dong posted 05-13-2022 11:14


Wide-spread strikes by union members, from bus drivers to teachers to manufacturers, continue to embroil union-friendly Northern Ireland. With no end in sight to inflation-driven cost-of-living increases, which are at the source of the labor unrest, HR Policy Global hosted a webinar discussing current policies and labor frameworks in Northern Ireland, the unions’ strategy, and what employers in Northern Ireland can do.

Key takeaways from the discussion include: 

  • Currently, unions have been asking for a significantly higher pay increase than what employers typically counteroffer to offset inflation. With labor shortages in the region, employers don’t have much leverage. Further, workers have strong financial support from unions, which operate in a very friendly political environment. 

  • In Northern Ireland, a strike must be voted upon by the workers and commence within 28 days of the last voting day. It may be extended for an extra 28 days with the employer’s agreement. The short period of time adds pressure on employers to negotiate an agreement. 

  • One of the unions’ tactics is to pressure other employers into the same deal they reach with one company. In addition, Unite, the major union in Northern Ireland and UK, indicated their intention is to expand the early-stage strike strategy to other parts of the UK. 

Outlook: Employers in Northern Ireland and the UK, even those not currently in negotiations with their unions, should be aware of the trend in the region as unions will continue to use the inflation crisis to expand their influence.