Northern Ireland

Belfast protests: Hundreds demonstrate over public sector pay

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Media captionHundreds of people have taken part in a rally in Belfast to protest over low pay. It was organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Several hundred people have gathered in the centre of Belfast for a march and rally to protest over low pay rises for public sector workers.

The event at Donegall Street has been organised by the Northern Ireland committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).

Similar union-led rallies are being held in Glasgow and London.

The ICTU estimated that 1,500 people took part in the Belfast march.

The protests have been organised under the theme of Britain Needs a Pay Rise.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) said average wages had fallen by £50 a week, in real terms, since 2008.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Our message is that after the longest and deepest pay squeeze in recorded history, it's time to end the lock-out that has kept the vast majority from sharing in the economic recovery."

GMB union general secretary Paul Kenny said members' living standards "continue to decline".

"People are currently facing the biggest squeeze on their incomes since Victorian times, and wages have fallen in real terms every year since 2010," he said.

The Belfast rally has heard members ask for an enforced minimum wage and commitment to a living wage, as well as a crackdown on executive pay.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, said the "best thing" the government could do was "recognise the value of the masses of people here today who have suffered and give them a pay rise".

Health workers went on strike on Monday in protest at the government's below-inflation 1% pay offer, with civil servants walking out on Wednesday.

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