Dispute to hit farmers as they man their lamb ‘maternity wings’

Harry Sinclair
Harry Sinclair

A former boss of the UFU has said that the widespread strike action on Friday has come at a particularly poor time for farmers.

Harry Sinclair, a cattle and sheep farmer in the Draperstown area, said that the absence of buses would prove a headache for those who rely on them to take their children long distances to school.

The problem is compounded by the fact it is the middle of lambing season, and it can be difficult to leave the farm.

Mr Sinclair said: “A lot of farms are one-man units, and their wives are working.

“That’s the worry in some cases... The maternity wing on a farm is the same as in a hospital – you can’t plan the time of these things. Nature takes its course.”

When it comes down to it, Mr Sinclair said “we’ll just have to wait and see what happens”.

One day earlier, the Royal College of GPs had warned that the strike by Translink staff seems set to affect rural areas the worst when it comes to reaching appointments.

The last time there was such an all-day public transport stoppage was November 2011, amid a pension dispute.

As well as transport staff, health and educational employees are set to take part in the stoppage tomorrow.

Striking staff are members of the INTO teaching union, the GMB, Unite, Unison and Nipsa.

They have been angered by issues such as pay freezes and potential job losses in their respective workplaces, and although they all balloted their members to strike separately, their action will all fall on the same day.