Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland to escape major disruption in day of strikes

By Claire McNeilly

Northern Ireland is likely to be spared the mass disruption expected in the rest of the UK today as public sector workers rail against controversial Government pension plans.

Several local services throughout the province will, however, be affected by the strike.

Up to 3,000 local members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will join three-quarters-of-a-million others in opting for industrial action.

Here, staff in local government departments and agencies including HM Revenue & Customs, UK Border Agency, Ministry of Defence, NI Courts Service, Maritime & Coastguards Agency and Identity & Passport Services will take part in a 24-hour walkout.

In real terms, the strike action - which PCS claims will see members working longer and paying more - will affect a number of local services, including Belfast International Airport, the Passport Office, the British Council, the Ministry of Defence, Tax offices and courts.

Northern Ireland PCS regional chairman Barney Lawn said that although the majority of protesters will centre in Belfast, picket lines will also be mounted outside offices in Enniskillen, Londonderry, Coleraine and Newry.

Mr Lawn said: "Our members, public servants with low pay and pensions, did not cause the recession yet the Government seem determined to unfairly punish them for it, not the bankers who caused it or the corporate tax dodgers who sustain it by depriving our economy of billions of pounds every year."

Elsewhere in the UK, people are bracing themselves for widespread chaos as parts of the country grind to a halt.

Around 600,000 teachers and civil servants will take to the streets, with court services affected and driving tests expected to be cancelled.

Background

Public sector workers are striking after members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union backed industrial action. The PCS said members had to defend themselves against "attacks" on their pensions by the government. Talks continue over changes which will see workers pay more into pensions, retire later and accept a "career average" pension.

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