Mid Ulster Council to pay a wage bill of at least £11.3m

Cookstown with the Christmas lights on
Cookstown with the Christmas lights on

The bill, which may average out at around £20m, covers wages for all of its 662 staff - just 313 of whom are salaried employees.

Dungannon Council offices

Dungannon Council offices

But, in its answer to a Freedom of Information request, the council said it could not put an exact figure on its staffing costs as “it has only been operational for nine months”.

And that the exact information would be published in the council’s 2015-16 financial accounts.

But it did provide the requested breakdown of the numbers of staff receiving wages in increments of £10,000, from the 373 who are paid between £10k and £20k, to the one staff member who receives an annual income of over £100k.

The figures showed, however, that those included in the lowest income bracket [£10k-£20k] make up over half of those employed by the council, yet they take home less than a third of the annual salary bill.

Magherafelt Council offices

Magherafelt Council offices

And that while almost a third [111] of that number work part-time, 262 are employed in full time positions, and most of them were men.The number of males [406] working for Mid Ulster Council was also 60 per cent greater than the number of females [256], with the higher number of male employees taking just 30% more of the total bill.

And of those 406 men, 277 were in the lowest pay bracket.

In the £20k-£30k group there were almost twice as many women as men, but the numbers of men and women taking home between £40k and £50k were almost equal.

Moving up to the next tier on the salary scale, however, this trend changes, with men in receipt of a wage of between £40k and £50k outnumbering women two to one, with one of the women working part-time.

The council also pays a further six people, equally split between the sexes, a wage of between £50k and £70k a year, with just one person out-earning that amount.

Before Mid Ulster District Council took over from the shadow council, councillors passed a motion from Cllr Malachy Quinn calling for all council staff to be paid at the very least the living wage.

At the time, the concept stirred much debate within the chamber, but it was eventually passed with 24 shadow councillors voting for it, seven against and six abstaining.

Before that debate at the October 2014 council meeting, it was put to council that of its 952 employees, 13 per cent were earning below the living wage, which is now £7.85 an hour.

The national minimum wage, is £1.35 less at £6.50 an hour for adults 21 and over, and £5.13 for those aged 18-20.