SIPTU members employed by local authorities across the country are preparing to ballot for industrial action as a result of the failure of the Government to conclude a deal on public sector pay that takes account of the increasing cost of living and high inflation rate. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien, said: “Earlier this year, the ICTU Public Service Unions invoked the review clause of the ‘Building Momentum’ Public Service Pay Agreement on foot of the runaway inflation across the economy. The Government has offered an additional increase of just 2.5% for the 2021-2022 period of the current agreement. This is clearly inadequate when inflation is likely to be more than 9% over that period.  “The ICTU Public Services Committee have told the Workplace Relations Commission that it is no longer in a position to continue discussions on an extension of Building Momentum, to cover pay in 2023, until the review is satisfactorily concluded. If there is no extension in place before the current agreement expires at the end of December, we will have to submit pay claims for next year. “At a meeting of the SIPTU Local Authority Sector Committee on 22nd July, the position that the 2.5% offer cannot credibly be put to ballots of low and middle-income public servants was reiterated. These SIPTU members, in common with workers across the economy, are currently bearing the full brunt of large and sustained increases in the cost of home heating, fuel, food, housing, childcare, and many other essentials. Many members across the Local Government Sector are now unable to make ends meet to cover their basic needs.  “Services, such as the Retained Fire Service, are also suffering as a result, of the failure by the Government to address low pay and poor conditions leaving this critical emergency service on its knees, with Local Authorities struggling to recruit or keep firefighters. The Government’s own research has verified a mass exodus of retained firefighters out of the service, yet it has failed to table any measures to address this crisis, resulting in communities being exposed to higher risk. He added: “Many of our members across the Local Authorities are facing into a winter where stark choices will have to be made between feeding and clothing their families, or heating their homes. This is an unacceptable position for our members to endure. They have seen virtually all of their pay restoration from successive public sector agreements wiped out. “Accordingly, the SIPTU Local Authority Sector Committee has endorsed a coordinated union campaign, supported by industrial and strike action ballots, to achieve a credible pay offer for 2021-2022 for Local Authority Sector members. We will be commencing practical arrangements for balloting, to begin next month.”