Belfast Telegraph

Public sector workers join strike

More public sector workers across Northern Ireland are set to join a 24-hour strike in a dispute over budget cuts and jobs.

Members of the Unison and the GMB unions working in health, education, the Civil Service, transport, the Rivers Agency, Forestry Service and Environment Agency will walk out on March 13.

Unison said the industrial action was a result of "damaging" cuts to public services, warning that hospital accident and emergency departments were under increasing pressure, staff were stressed and wards overcrowded.

Around 1,500 education support jobs are to be cut and services slashed, said Unison.

Ambulance staff will also be on strike, although Unison said initial proposals had been made for emergency cover.

The GMB warned that 20,000 jobs could be axed and claimed that savings from redundancies could be used to pay for a tax cut for big business.

Regional officer Alan Perry said: "Thousands of jobs and millions of pounds will be taken from the economy in both private and public sectors - thousands will join the dole queues."

Picket lines will be mounted across Northern Ireland as well as rallies and marches.

Unison members working in health and social services voted by 81% in favour of strikes and by 75% in education.

Regional secretary Patricia McKeown said: "These results send a clear message that public sector workers in Northern Ireland have had enough and that they are now ready to take industrial action to protect their jobs, local services and pay.

"There is a strong determination among health workers particularly from our nurses, cleaners, porters and admin workers.

"In our schools, everyone from crossing patrols to school meals staff, caretaking and cleaning staff, and classroom assistants have borne the brunt of massive cuts in schools' budgets and are now facing more."

Unison has 30,000 members involved in the dispute.

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