| 10.8°C Belfast

Translink strike: Parents in the dark over school transport as discussions continue


Translink workers are set to strike after Easter. Picture Martin McKeown.

Translink workers are set to strike after Easter. Picture Martin McKeown.

Translink workers are set to strike after Easter. Picture Martin McKeown.

The Department of Education has said talks are continuing with the Education Authority (EA) over the potential disruption which could face school children as Translink employees prepare for strike action after the Easter holidays.

Joint union strike action is planned to shut down public bus services for a week starting Monday, April 25 and concluding Sunday, May 1, with an additional single day on Friday, May 6.

Ulsterbus and Metro bus services are set to be affected, which would include travel to and from schools across Northern Ireland.

The action has been criticised as another blow for pupils who have already missed so much time in the classroom over the past two years, with parents left in the dark as to how their children will be able to travel to schools.

There are fears the disruption could affect students preparing to sit their summer exams in a few weeks’ time.

The action is being taken as union members overwhelmingly voted in favour of the strike after rejecting the latest Translink management pay offer.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham expressed her support for the striking bus workers.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

“These bus workers are frontline workers – they deserve respect and a pay increase. Translink needs to grasp that there’s a cost of living crisis destroying the value of wages and return with a more acceptable offer,” she said.

Unite deputy regional secretary Davy Thompson is lead officer for Translink. He added: “Unite represents the overwhelming majority of bus workers, and this strike action taken in conjunction with GMB which also represents bus workers will shut down all bus services.

“Bus workers deserve a pay increase. The ball is in the court of Translink management.

“They can avoid this unnecessary and highly disruptive strike – they need to address our members’ legitimate pay expectations.”

Alliance’s Kellie Armstrong has called on both the Department and the EA to urgently update parents on the potential impact.

“Alliance believes in the right of workers to strike, however there are consequences which need to be thought about,” she said.

“The Education Minister and EA have been aware of the upcoming strike for some time, yet have not provided parents with solutions should Translink be unable to provide home to school transport for those in receipt of it.

“This issue has been raised a number of times by concerned parents on the doors during this election campaign. They need to know arrangements as soon as possible, as otherwise they will have to source childcare or take holidays from their own place of work.

“If a number of buses do not operate later this month due to the strike, questions remain - will pupils be treated as absent if they can’t attend? Will there be any consideration given relating to lost learning time if they are due to sit exams soon?

“There has so far been silence from Minister Michelle McIlveen and the EA, which is incredibly disappointing for parents across Northern Ireland. With a potential strike by classroom assistants possibly happening after Easter as well, it is vital things are not left until the last minute. We need more communication and for the Minister and EA to show they care about the safety of our children and young people, and having their access to education disrupted as little as possible.”

The EA said: “We remain very concerned about the disproportionate impact both sets of industrial action will have on pupils, schools and families and we will continue to do all we can to minimise disruption as far as possible. We would also call on Unite to work with us to agree exemptions to minimise the impact on the most vulnerable pupils, including those attending special schools.

“National negotiations are due to commence on the 22/23 Pay Award and we would encourage Unite to join their trade union colleagues to engage constructively on this. Additionally, we will continue to engage collectively with all of our trade unions on local issues impacting on pay terms and conditions."

The Department of Education said: “Discussions are ongoing between the Department and EA on the potential impact of industrial action by Translink employees on school transport.”

Top Videos