Minimal disruption despite strike action

Members of the UNISON and NIPSA trades unions from the Southern Health & Social Services Trust picketed the offices in Scarva Street during the one day strike �Edward Byrne Photography INBL1511-221EB
Members of the UNISON and NIPSA trades unions from the Southern Health & Social Services Trust picketed the offices in Scarva Street during the one day strike �Edward Byrne Photography INBL1511-221EB

Disruption cause by public sector workers taking to the picket lines last Friday was minimal across the Banbridge District.

The strikes followed a decision by a number of unions to take industrial action over service cuts.

Members of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, which represents mainly teachers in Catholic Primary Schools, was the only teaching union which voted for strike action.

As a result, Catholic schools were most affected across the province including St. Colman’s Primary in Annaclone, which was closed for the day.

Other local schools affected by the strike, including St Patricks College, saw minimal disruption with parents finding alternative ways to transport their children to school and staff doing their best to “muddle through”.

While some post-primary schools closed because of the shortage of staff and pupil transport, it appeared that the majority remained open, particularly for exam classes.

In the controlled sector, most primary schools opened but some closed early because non-teaching staff such as canteen workers and supervisors were on strike. Some schools told pupils to bring packed lunches instead.

Members of the UNISON and NIPSA trades unions from the Southern Health & Social Services Trust picketed the offices in Scarva Street during the one day strike.

There were no Ulsterbus services on Friday except the express Belfast to Dublin service at 23:00 GMT and no trains.

One of the largest events was in Belfast where train drivers, nurses, teachers and civil servants, who had been manning picket lines since the early hours, packed into the city centre to show their opposition to austerity measures.

Organisers claimed 8,500 took part in the demonstration and the enthusiastic crowd was whipped up as trade union leaders repeatedly slammed the governments at Westminster and Stormont.

Brian Campfield, general secretary of NIPSA, the largest public sector union, hailed the massive response to the strike.

He said: “The thousands of workers who participated in (today’s) strikes and protests across Northern Ireland have sent a very clear message to the Northern Ireland political parties and leaders.”