Belfast Telegraph

Opinion: Punishing Translink customers will not get sympathy

By Ian James Parsley

I have a confession to make. I really quite like Translink. My experience of it is, admittedly, predominantly on the railways outside peak hours, where I enjoy comfortable new trains, superb innovation (such as wifi) and great punctuality.

So I have sympathy with those, particularly working for our train and bus services, protesting the budget reductions.

The Assembly has mishandled the budget, refusing to contemplate any but the most crude revenue raising and leaving inefficient services and capital funds untouched, while seeking to penalise our transport.

I opt for public transport, but many absolutely rely on it, so this is a penalty which will be paid by users of our railways and bus routes who should not be penalised by any government calling itself "progressive".

That, however, is my problem with the strike action. While entirely sympathetic with the point being made, it is being made in entirely the wrong way.

Those proposing the strike seem to have forgotten that, by definition, public transport does not exist for those who work on it, but for those who use it - and it is those who use it who will be penalised. The tactics of the strike have put the very people who should agree with the objective on the wrong side.

Public transport workers and users should be on the same side, lobbying our politicians to deliver a more adequate budget for services upon which thousands of people are dependent.

On Friday, those people will be hindered, not helped - having to take days off, make arrangements for children or find other ways to visit relatives.

Surely anyone can see there is no advantage to be gained by Translink workers holding customers to ransom?

The budget reduction is unfair, but so is the strike - as both punish the same people.

Let us call off the strike, and recognise service workers and service users should work together, not apart.

Ian James Parsley is a businessman (focusing on strategic public relations, political communications and language learning), and a social commentator

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