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QUB staff in 24-hour stoppage

Strike fears for festival

By Noel McAdam

A NATIONWIDE strike is set to hit the Belfast Festival at Queen's, it

A NATIONWIDE strike is set to hit the Belfast Festival at Queen's, it emerged today.

There are fears that the 24-hour stoppage tomorrow could affect a number of headline events, including the Royal Shakespeare Company performance of The Comedy of Errors at the Whitla Hall.

However, Festival Marketing Director Rosie Turner said: 'We hope no events will be cancelled. Our responsibility is to the people who bought the tickets and we hope to go ahead with minimum disruption.'Security and other back-up staff are to strike for 24 hours from midnight, and electricians may also withdraw their services.

Academics and students are joining in the strike over pay which is likely to reduce campuses at Queen's and the University of Ulster to a near standstill.

John Campbell, senior shop steward of the Transport and General Workers, which has around 300 members at Queen's, said: 'Regrettably our action will affect the Festival.

'We have been friends of the Festival for many years. But this is a 24-hour stoppage overwhelmingly supported by 76% of our members in a vote.

'We have decided not to directly picket Festival events. But our staff who would do the doors and provide security and cleaning for the areas will not be there.'Tomorrow will be the first time students have joined forces with academic staff to protest over pay and funding levels of higher education in the province.

The Association of University Teachers said: 'The universities will effectively close down as staff and students demonstrate their anger over years of government neglect of the levels of pay and resourcing.'

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