Bus and rail strike on three key shopping days before Christmas

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Translink workers from UNITE, SIPTU and GMB will take three further days of strike action during three key shopping days in the run up to Christmas.

Bus and rail workers will stage a 48 hour stoppage from 00.01am on Friday, December 15, until midnight on Saturday, December 16, with a further 24-hour strike commencing a week later at 00.01am on Friday, December 22 – the last Friday before Christmas.

The strikes will bring to a standstill all bus and rail services operated by Translink unless there is an 11th hour resolution to a pay dispute with the transport provider.

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Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is completely unacceptable that Translink workers are facing a huge real terms pay cut, due to the proposed pay freeze.

All bus services will be affected by the strike action.All bus services will be affected by the strike action.
All bus services will be affected by the strike action.

“This dispute rest entirely at the door of the Secretary of State [Chris Heaton-Harris] who could easily resolve it by providing an adequate budget for public transport services. The Translink workers have the unflinching backing of Unite.

"In the coming days, workers will be taking their campaign for decent pay direct to the door of the Secretary of State.”

Speaking for GMB trade union, regional organiser Peter Macklin said: “The unions have agreed three further strike days before Christmas. We were left with no alternative due to the refusal of the secretary of state [Chris Heaton-Harris] to intervene, to provide adequate budgets for our public transport services and to meet our members’ pay expectations. He bears full responsibility for the entirely avoidable disruption that will accompany this strike action.”

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SIPTU regional organiser for his union’s members in Translink, Niall McNally, said: “The Secretary of State needs to step back and pull Northern Ireland from the brink.

There will be no rail services on December 16, 17 and 22.There will be no rail services on December 16, 17 and 22.
There will be no rail services on December 16, 17 and 22.

"A return to stable government in Northern Ireland requires adequate funding for basic public services, including public transport – funding sufficient to enable a proper pay increase for public sector workers. It is still within the power of the Secretary of State to avoid this strike if he intervenes to resolve this dispute.”

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In a statement Translink said: “We have been formally advised that UNITE, GMB and SIPTU unions intend to take further industrial action on Friday, December 15, Saturday, December 16 and Friday, December 22.

“We are disappointed with this decision by our Union colleagues which will disrupt bus and rail services that so many of our passengers rely on particularly at this busy time of the year. 

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“We are fully committed to enter into pay negotiations once the budget issue has been resolved. The budget issue, which impacts on many public sector workers, needs to be resolved at the NI Executive level.

“We would urge our colleagues not to take this further action which will only exacerbate the financial pressures on Translink as well as impact local school children and damage the livelihoods of many businesses and their staff in the retail and hospitality sectors who depend on the busy Christmas period.

“We will communicate relevant passenger information through the media, on our website www.translink.co.uk/industrialaction, through social media, in stations, and on buses and trains. Our contact centre will also remain open 028 90 666 630.”