Northern Ireland

January 18 strike day: What services are affected in Northern Ireland?

A major day of strike action is planned across Northern Ireland, with significant disruption expected across health, education and public transport.
A major day of strike action is planned across Northern Ireland, with significant disruption expected across health, education and public transport. (Claudia Savage/PA)

TENS of thousands of public sector workers in Northern Ireland will join picket lines this Thursday in what has been billed as the largest strike action in Northern Ireland in a generation.

Health, education and transport workers are among those taking action over pay, conditions and for better funding of services.

More than a dozen trade unions are taking part including the Royal College of Nursing as well as public transport unions Unite, GMB and SIPTU.

But what disruption to services can the public expect to face on Thursday?


The head of Northern Ireland’s five health trusts and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service have warned the public to expect disruption on a “massive and unprecedented scale,” stating that the best case scenario will be similar to the service offered on Christmas day.

At a joint statement from the Trusts on Monday, South Eastern Trust Chief Executive Roisin Coulter said that discussions with trade unions about potential exemptions are under way.

She explained that only “minimum and emergency services” would be available right across Northern Ireland.

“There is likely to be increased risk to patients and to the public on Thursday but we will do everything we can as always to protect our priority of maintaining safe services so patient safety is the priority,” she said.

She added that community services would be affected as well, and the public should assume unless they have been contacted that their procedure, outpatient appointment or daycare attendance has been cancelled on Thursday.

Medical director Dr Charlie Martyn said Thursday would only cover “life or limb” services, but full emergency cover at the front door of hospitals would be available but under difficult circumstances.

Public transport

Transport unions are staging a staggered strike from midnight on Thursday, and Translink has said that no bus or train services will be operating, with full timetables to resume on Friday.

In a statement, Translink said they remained committed to entering “constructive pay negotiations” but could only do so once the Northern Ireland budget had been solved at an Executive level.

Passenger information will remain available through the media, through social media, in stations and on buses and trains.

Translink’s contact centre will also remain open on 028 90 6666 30.

Information on any ticket refunds is also available on the Translink website and must be made before February 29.

Bookings for cross border train services on Thursday have been suspended, while those who have already purchased Enterprise tickets are being contacted to organise refunds.


Parents and pupils also face a day of disruption as teaching unions have notified schools of their intention to strike, meaning many schools are likely to close for the day.

The Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council, which represents the five main teaching unions, has said there can be “no reprieve” over the strike action unless their pay claim is resolved.

This month, the Ulster Teachers’ Union’s general secretary Jacquie White said said teachers had been “left with no option.”

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that each and every member feels cornered into this action given that our long-running pay claim began in 2020,” she said.