Northern Ireland bus and train services suspended amid strike

Northern Ireland Bus And Train Services Suspended Amid Strike
A bus, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Rebecca Black, PA

Britain's Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has been challenged over pay awards for public sector workers as another strike was bringing transport in the region to a standstill.

Bus and rail services in Northern Ireland were being halted for a third day in just over a week on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, just before Christmas.


Members of the Unite, GMB and Siptu unions employed by public transport company Translink were starting the action just after midnight on Friday.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris
Unions said they were told Translink could ‘only offer a pay freeze’ due to the budget set by Chris Heaton-Harris earlier this year (James Manning/PA)

It follows a two-day stoppage last week and was bringing all bus and rail services to a standstill.


Further public transport strike dates are expected to be announced in the new year.

The dispute is over pay, with unions arguing for a cost-of-living pay increase.

The unions said they were told Translink could “only offer a pay freeze” due to the budget set by Mr Heaton-Harris earlier this year in the absence of locally elected ministers.

Industrial strike
Members of Unite and the GMB formed a picket line at Translink’s Europa Bus Station on Glengall Street in Belfast during a 24-hour dispute over pay last week (Liam McBurney/PA)

Meanwhile, there will be a “generalised day of action” by public sector workers, including health workers, midwives, radiographers, teachers and civil servants on January 18th over pay.

Political parties took part in talks with Mr Heaton-Harris earlier in the week where they were told of a £3.3 billion (€3.3 billion) financial package from the UK government which could cover public sector pay awards if devolved government was resurrected.

But the DUP, who are refusing to participate in the Stormont Assembly until unionist concerns over post-Brexit trading arrangements are addressed, has indicated it remains in discussions with the Government.


GMB regional organiser Peter Macklin accused Mr Heaton-Harris of “cruelly dangling funding for a pay increase in front of public sector workers”.



“He is seeking to politicise the issue of public sector pay and the proper funding of public sector services,” he said.

“Workers face an 11% real-terms pay cut, that is not something that should be leveraged in negotiations or made a divisive issue. Adequate funding for public transport and for a cost-of-living increase for workers is something that must be provided by right.”

In a statement, Translink said none of its bus or train services would operate on Friday due to industrial action, and full timetables would resume on Saturday.

“We remain fully committed to entering constructive pay negotiations. However, this can only be done once the budget issue has been resolved,” they said.


“This situation impacts all public sector workers and needs to be resolved at the Northern Ireland Executive level.

“We have urged our colleagues to reconsider and pause this action in light of the social and economic impact it will have at this time.

“Passenger information is available through the media, on the website, through social media, in stations, and on buses and trains. The contact centre will also remain open 028 90 666630.

“We apologise to all our passengers for any inconvenience this may cause.”

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