‘Was it worth it?’ DUP and union boss offer different views on strike

An anti-cuts rally in Belfast co-inciding with the strike
An anti-cuts rally in Belfast co-inciding with the strike

After strikers brought much of Northern Ireland to a standstill on Friday, The News Letter asked two opposing figures: ‘What did the strike achieve?’

As reported, widespread walkouts in the health, education and transport sectors caused severe headaches for many in the Province – including the cancellation of around 2,100 medical appointments or procedures.

Peter Bunting

Peter Bunting

DUP Finance Minister Simon Hamilton:

“The strike achieved no movement on any of the issues highlighted by the unions as the reason for calling it.

“The same budgetary pressures exist, and the same difficult choices remain.

“The strike has not altered the need to press ahead with the Executive’s aim to reform and restructure the public sector.

“All those civil servants who have applied for voluntary exit will still hope they are included within that scheme.

“The strike did achieve disruption in the lives of people right across Northern Ireland.

“Many people lost a day’s pay because they were unable to travel to work, or had to make alternative arrangements because of school closures.

“None of these achievements however will have made a positive difference to the lives of workers or the vital services delivered to the public.”

Peter Bunting of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the umbrella group representing unions across Northern Ireland:

“Yesterday, tens of thousands of hard-working public servants did something extraordinary.

“They voluntarily sacrificed a day’s pay for send a simple message to three groups of powerful people: The Tory-led administration in Westminster; the Stormont Executive parties; and the unelected power elites at the top of business and the quango state.

“Yesterday we heard and we saw the people who work hardest to keep this society civilised have their say.

“Quite sensibly, they do not buy the myth that Welfare Reform, privatising public assets, eliminating 20,000 good jobs and a massive cut in Corporation Tax will make NI a better place.

“What we saw yesterday, in short, was an expression of democracy that went beyond Orange and Green. And we haven’t finished yet.”