Northern Ireland

Bus and train workers strike again despite Stormont progress

Bus and train workers strike at Short Strand depot in Belfast on Thursday.
The latest industrial action comes as legislation is to be debated which could lead to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive in the coming days.
PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN
Bus and train workers strike Bus and train workers strike at Short Strand depot in Belfast on Thursday. The latest industrial action comes as legislation is to be debated which could lead to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive in the coming days. PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN

BUS and rail services across Northern Ireland have been disrupted on Thursday as Translink workers stage their latest day of strike action.

Despite optimism this week after the DUP endorsed to restore the Stormont Executive, members of the Unite, GMB and Siptu trade unions confirmed they would continue with planned industrial action today and on February 15, 17 and 28 unless a pay deal is agreed.

A Translink spokesperson said they remained “fully committed to entering constructive pay negotiations,” but this could only take place once the budget issue had been resolved at Executive level.

Bus and train workers strike at central station in Belfast on Thursday.
The latest industrial action comes as legislation is to be debated which could lead to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive in the coming days.
PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN
Bus and train workers strike Bus and train workers strike at central station in Belfast on Thursday. The latest industrial action comes as legislation is to be debated which could lead to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive in the coming days. PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN

“We also continue to engage with all key stakeholders for a long term funding agreement for public transport to ensure we can provide attractive, sustainable travel options that drive modal shift for a better connected future for all,” they added.

“We have urged our colleagues to reconsider this industrial action that will unfortunately further disrupt bus and rail services that so many of our passengers rely on and exacerbate the financial pressures on Translink.”



Passenger information will be available through the Translink website or by calling 028 9066 6630.

A joint statement from the three trade unions said more than 3,000 workers were taking part their sixth one-day strike, bringing all bus and rail services in Northern Ireland to a standstill.

The statement said it was the result of Translink failing to make any form of pay offer to workers and funding for public transport had been constrained because of a “punitive budget” imposed by the Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris.

They added that after the political progress on Monday, there was still no clarity on when a new offer or even negotiations could take place.

Unite boss Sharon Graham hailed the deal (PA)
Unite boss Sharon Graham has called for urgent progress on a pay deal for transport workers in Northern Ireland (PA)

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Bus and Rail workers rightfully expect a pay increase that protects them from the worst inflationary surge in generations. Instead in a complete abdication of responsibility to its workers, Translink has failed to make any offer.

“As a result public transport workers have no alternative but to continue with planned strike action. They have the full support of Unite in their fight to win respect and a cost of living pay increase.”

GMB regional organiser Peter Macklin said: “Regardless of the latest developments at Stormont, our members are still facing the prospect of a zero per cent offer made last year being imposed. A few years ago, these workers were being hailed as frontline heroes. They deserve better and they are ready and willing to strike to secure it.

“At any point, if a meaningful pay offer is received then that is something our members will consider and respond to appropriately but in the absence of any movement, we have no alternative but to proceed with the planned action.”

Bus and train workers strike at central station in Belfast on Thursday.
The latest industrial action comes as legislation is to be debated which could lead to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive in the coming days.
PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN
Bus and train workers strike Bus and train workers strike at central station in Belfast on Thursday. The latest industrial action comes as legislation is to be debated which could lead to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive in the coming days. PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN

SIPTU regional organiser Niall McNally commented: “In the aftermath of the January 18 one day public sector strike, secretary of state Chris Heaton-Harris said he would move to address the pressures on the public sector finances but as yet that has not translated into any offer for workers.

“We are hearing a lot of promises but so far we have no pay offer or even a timeline for a pay offer. Without that the unions will proceed with our agreed plans for further and escalated strike action in this dispute.”

Buses parked up  at Duncrue  Street in Belfast on Thursday.
The latest industrial action comes as legislation is to be debated which could lead to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive in the coming days.
PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN
Bus and train workers strike Buses parked up at Duncrue Street in Belfast on Thursday. The latest industrial action comes as legislation is to be debated which could lead to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive in the coming days. PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN