Belfast Telegraph

Public sector workers cripple services with one-day strike for pay

By Nevin Farrell

Libraries and leisure centres were shut and bins went uncollected as thousands of public sector workers across Northern Ireland took part in a strike yesterday.

Unions – including the largest, Nipsa and Unite – joined the strike which disrupted services across the UK.

In Belfast some angry residents said they feared the strike action, which saw household bins lie uncollected, could lead to an infestations of rats and flies.

Pauline McComb (45) from Tennent Street in the Shankill area said her bin was due to have been collected yesterday for the first time in two weeks. But it wasn't –and she said people had been told it could be up to another two weeks before collection lorries visit due to holidays.

"This a real health hazard as bags will build up outside houses and already flies are in and around people's bins," she said.

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman confirmed that yesterday's uncollected bins would not be picked up until Saturday, July 19 at the earliest.

There was also disappointment at Belfast Zoo where the gates were closed. Emma Fagan (32) went to the zoo with her children Cillian (7) and Finn (1), unaware that it would be closed.

Ms Fagan said: "I knew there was a strike on but didn't think the zoo would have been affected. I'm disappointed."

In Larne some Unite union members decided they wouldn't strike. A council worker said: "We are Unite members but we took a joint decision in our yard to come in to work rather than go on strike because we didn't think Unite union was doing much for us in the last six months."

But Jimmy Kelly of Unite said: "Our members don't do glamorous jobs, they're the ones lifting your bins from outside your door.

"It's a job that has to be done, but they have to be paid decent wages. We've tried all the usual talking and meetings, trying to achieve an extra pound an hour for our members. The talking just doesn't get you anywhere."

Factfile

What was hit by the strike?

  • Belfast Zoo shut to visitors
  • Central Library in Belfast and other libraries closed
  • Bins not collected in many areas
  • Leisure centres closed
  • Several parks shut
  • Cemeteries and crematorium open but with a limited service
  • No pest control available

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