Almost 2,500 bus and train drivers planning further strike action in Northern Ireland

Latest walkout comes after mass strike by 170,000 public sector workers last week

Almost 2,500 bus and train drivers in Northern Ireland are planning further days of strike action next month over pay.

Public transport trade unions, GMB, Unite and Siptu, confirmed on Tuesday that they will notify Translink of the move.

The first of four planned walkouts will take place on February 1st. Translink drivers also went on strike before Christmas.

The announcement comes after last Thursday’s mass strike by 170,000 public sector workers across Northern Ireland, the largest in a generation.


Trade unions are calling on Northern Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris to release almost £600 million to settle the dispute which centres on the North’s workers being paid less than their British counterparts.

Mr Heaton-Harris has insisted that he does not have the legal power to act and that pay is a devolved matter.

Last month he announced the money was available as part of a £3.3 billion package for Northern Ireland but was dependent on Stormont’s return. The DUP is continuing its boycott of the devolved institutions as part on its protest at post-Brexit trading arrangement.

Next month marks the two-year anniversary of Stormont’s collapse after DUP First Minister Paul Givan quit the powersharing executive.

Peter Macklin, GMB regional organiser, said the Northern Secretary’s “behaviour towards workers, our public services and indeed the public has been nothing short of disgraceful”.

Amid the Stormont stalemate, Mr Heaton-Harris is due to introduce legislation at Westminster this week which will outline his “next steps”- expected to be a further extension of the deadline to call an Assembly election and the basic powers needed to keep Northern Ireland functioning.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), an umbrella body for 26 unions across the North, has warned that strike action will continue if the pay row is not resolved.

Speaking after a meeting on Monday, ICTU assistant general secretary Gerry Murphy said that when Mr Heaton-Harris addresses Parliament this week, he will “need to bear in mind that he has lost the support of every political party, public sector leader as well as the general public on the issue of fair pay for public servants”.

“The enormous levels of public support exhibited last Thursday represents a mandate for the trade union movement to continue its efforts for pay justice,” he added.

“If there is no prospect of an immediate declaration that sufficient money is available for all public sector employers to negotiate a fair pay settlement, then there is little prospect of industrial peace being restored.”

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Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham is Northern Correspondent of The Irish Times