Winter of discontent hits Derry

Vital services across Derry could come to a standstill on Wednesday as public sector workers prepare themselves for the biggest strike in years.

A number of trade unions - including UNITE, NIPSA, UNISON, NASUWT and the NAHT - are planning to picket against proposed government cuts. The 24-hour walkout looks likely to be the biggest day of industrial unrest since the 1979 ‘Winter of Discontent’.

It is expected that schools could be forced to close, health services and appointments cancelled, public transport curtailed and Council services reduced.

Teachers, bus and train drivers and health workers, along with many more public service men/women, are planning to take part in the action, causing serious upheaval right across the region.

A spokesperson for the Western Health Trust said it was working to minimise disruption to services on Wednesday. “It is anticipated, however, that there may be delays as a result of the action. A protocol has been agreed with a number of trade unions involved in the action to protect in-patient, residential and clinically critical services,” he said.

Schools and colleges across the region will also be hit by the strike.

A spokesperson for the Western Education Board (WELB) said it fully recognised the “potential disruption to pupils and parents arising from the industrial action while appreciating the concerns of those taking to the picket lines.” Guidance, says the WELB, will be issued to school principals advising them to clarify who will be absent due to the strike and to make an assessment of the extent to which normal operations would be affected. No buses or trains will operate across NI on Wednesday.

Derry City Council said the public should expect disruption to Council services on Wednesday. However, all flights from the City’s airport are expected to operate as normal.