Belfast Telegraph

We need to keep people at work instead of escalating disputes

Editor's Viewpoint

Given the considerable disruption caused to the general public by yesterday’s all-out strike, it is disturbing to discover how few trade unionists actually voted for it.

The figures revealed in our exclusive report today show that just one in 10 members of the Nipsa trade union voted for the strike that brought misery to thousands.

Only 4,201 of the 40,000 or so Nipsa members balloted said that they were prepared to take part in strike action. It is also significant that 76.1% said that they were prepared to take action  falling short of a strike, but only 23.9% disagreed with this — presumably favouring an all-out strike.

These figures are remarkable, given that the strike impacted on thousands of  members of the public who had no say in the matter.

It is also significant that while the trade unions regularly criticise large businesses for their alleged lack of transparency, the unions themselves have refused all week to disclose how many of their members voted for the strike. This is yet another example of the pot calling the kettle black.

Unfortunately there are threats that this action might be repeated. Bumper Graham, a leader who is not slow to come forward to express the union’s view, has said there could be more strikes, or more limited disruptions.

This is not a time for veiled threats, but rather the opportunity for cool heads. The unions and management must redouble their efforts to avoid further disruption, including the possibility of people being left without an ambulance service during an emergency. It is also important to point to another revelation in today’s Belfast

Telegraph. Senior civil servants have warned that each week’s delay in implementing the budget will cost the economy £2m.

It is a very serious situation, and this is not time for the people of Northern Ireland to have industrial action imposed on them. Instead, it is time to keep people at work and in that way make a real contribution to our economy, for the good of everyone.

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