By CLARE WEIR
THE strike shutdown at City of Derry airport next week – at the height of the holiday season -prompted fears of chaos for tourists today.
Despite last-minute negotiations last night, no agreement could be reached between council and union representatives and services have been suspended from midnight on Tuesday until midnight on Thursday.
A Derry City Council spokeswoman said that it had made a strong case to representatives from the Unite union to make council staff who work at the airport exempt from its forthcoming strike action.
She added: "Council are extremely disappointed that an agreement could not be reached with the union and, as a result, City of Derry Airport has been forced to suspend its services.
"The City of Derry Airport apologises for the disruption to passengers and stresses that this is an exceptional situation and would welcome the support of passengers and airlines at this time."
Londonderry Mayor Gerard Diver said: "Derry City Council has been negotiating intensely with Unite to try and secure exemption for airport staff. Council have made Unite fully aware of their concerns about the ramifications for the airport, its passengers and the local economy if the facility is forced to close."
Passengers affected will be able to access updates through the airport website www.cityofderryairport.com.
Most council facilities and services will close, but the acting Town Clerk and Chief Executive, John Meehan, says that exemptions had been granted for cemetery staff.
Cemetery services are available for the public, but refuse collection for cityside households is unavailable. Blue bins due to be collected on these days will be collected the week beginning July 28.
Refuse collection for Waterside households is also unavailable. Black bins due to be collected on these days should be left for collection from Monday, July 21 and remain at kerbside until collected during that week. Civic amenity sites will close to the public, while the council’s Civic Offices on Strand Road and the Guildhall will close to the public.
All leisure facilities including Templemore, Lisnagelvin, Brooke Park, Shantallow Community Centre and St Columb’s Park Leisure Centres and the City Baths will close to the public and the council’s Museum Services will also be affected with the Harbour Museum, the Workhouse Museum and the Tower Museum remaining closed to the public.
A council meeting on Thursday is rescheduled until Friday at 2pm with other council meetings rescheduled for later dates.
Nipsa, Northern Ireland’s main public service trade union has called on over 14,000 members employed in Local Government, Education and Library Boards, NI Housing Executive, Further Education Colleges and other public bodies, to take strike action.
General Secretary John Corey said that members are ‘not prepared’ to accept a pay offer giving only a 2.45% increase which is well below the Retail Price Index measure of inflation of 4.3% and below the astronomical increases in the costs of food and fuel.
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