Unite’s Regional Officer with responsibility for employees at the Roads Service, Gareth Scott, says devastating cuts to the service will directly threaten road safety and could cost lives throughout Northern Ireland.
The union is currently consulting workers in response to management proposals.
Mr Scott said: “Unite representatives have been informed of plans to severely cut road maintenance services. Management are proposing reducing the inspection of rural roads for potholes from three times a year to once a year.
“It is also proposed that only the very worst potholes (category R1 - currently requiring 24 hour response) will be patched in future with all other grades of potholes including R2 and R3 unlikely to be dealt with.
“Workers have been told that the budget for materials has been restricted to £50 a day per depot meaning that work requiring consumption of working materials will be severely restricted. As such workers may be restricted to tasks such as road edging and outlets manual gully emptying – tasks that don’t require materials.
“We understand that there is no budget for the cost of salting roads in the coming winter; apparently the Department are relying on a reallocation from a future Monitoring Round for this funding.
“This situation is intolerable. The impact of these cuts will be to directly threaten road safety and could cost lives throughout Northern Ireland. Roads Service workers will be impacted through likely reductions in staff, work and pay – the union is concerned that the Department’s future plans may be to outsource or privatise the service altogether.
“Unite is discussing our response to this attack with Road Service representatives but these cuts will affect more than our members. They are an attack on the quality of life of rural communities and will impact the survival of businesses who will be forced to absorb the extra costs associated with an inadequate roads infrastructure”, Mr Scott concluded.