Public is behind us, NI’s striking workers insist

The general public is backing strike action by Unite members working in education, for local councils and for the Housing Executive, the union has insisted.

By Niall Deeney
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 4:26 pm
Pacemaker Press 24-03-2022:  STRIKING union workers took their protest about fair pay to the steps of Stormont in Belfast today. A rally was held at Parliament Buildings as Unite union members continue their week-long strike action.
Staff including classroom assistants, school bus drivers, Housing Executive and council workers where among those who took part in the rally.
Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.
Pacemaker Press 24-03-2022: STRIKING union workers took their protest about fair pay to the steps of Stormont in Belfast today. A rally was held at Parliament Buildings as Unite union members continue their week-long strike action. Staff including classroom assistants, school bus drivers, Housing Executive and council workers where among those who took part in the rally. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.

A protest was held on the fourth day of the week-long strike action on Thursday, as schools, bin collections and other services continued to face disruption across Northern Ireland.

The Unite trade union has said its current action will run until Sunday, with “further strike dates likely to be announced thereafter”.

The Education Authority has said several bus routes are likely to face disruption again on Friday, with special schools including Glenveagh in Belfast, Parkview in Lisburn, and Tor Bank in Dundonald seeing several bus routes called off.

In councils, meanwhile, there has been disruption to bin collections and leisure services, although some councils are seeing more of an impact than others.

The Causeway Coast and Glens council, for example, has called off all bin collections this week while the Newry, Mourne and Down council has reported little impact to services.

At a Stormont protest on Thursday, the Unite regional secretary Jackie Pollock insisted the public is behind the workers as they strike for a pay increase to keep pace with soaring living costs.

“Over the past days, our members have been vilified by their employers,” Mr Pollock claimed.

“This is a blatant attempt to avoid any discussion of how workers’ incomes are falling ever further behind living costs.”

He continued: “The responsibility for this strike lies squarely at the feet of the employers and politicians who have done nothing to address our members’ legitimate pay expectations. They knew that our members rejected the pay offer made months ago but have done nothing at all in that time to avert a strike.”

He added: “The cynical attempt to undermine the right of workers to take strike action has clearly fallen flat. The public overwhelmingly support those standing on the picketlines.”

The head of the union, general secretary Sharon Graham, had a message of solidarity for the striking workers.

“Unite members are standing on picket lines across Northern Ireland to win a wage that they can live on,” she said..

“It is a disgrace that these council, education and housing workers are being hung out to dry by politicians, while their incomes get destroyed by rocketing inflation.”

She added: “This workforce can count on the full and continued support of Unite as they take their next steps in this strike action.”