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Council strikes hurt everyone but onus is on bosses to head off walkout

Andrew Madden


Belfast City Hall... A strike by council workers would impact a range of services

Belfast City Hall... A strike by council workers would impact a range of services

Belfast City Hall... A strike by council workers would impact a range of services

News that Belfast City Council workers could go on strike will not come as a surprise.

With the cost of living soaring and inflation at its highest in years, people everywhere are struggling to makes ends meet.

Belfast is our largest local authority with around 2,500 staff, many of them union members.

A walkout would have a massive impact across a range of services, including bin collections, street cleansing and parks.

Some people may overlook the work council employees carry out.

However, without them our rubbish would not be taken away, our public green spaces would quickly become overgrown, vermin would overrun streets, and many sports pitches and facilities would be shut.

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Strike action is always a last resort. The fact there have been several involving council staff in recent years shows pay and conditions remain a long-running problem that needs to be addressed, and not simply with sticking plaster solutions that only kick the can down the road.

Until those in power recognise council employees deserve a decent wage that keeps up with turbulent external factors like inflation, as well as suitable working conditions, we will see the inevitable recurring cycle of disputes and industrial action every year that hurts everyone — employees, employers and ratepayers.

Industrial action, in the public and private sectors, is taking place across the UK.

It’s a sign of the times and a symptom of the wider problems facing the economy.

From food shortages and supply chain problems exacerbated by Brexit and the war in Ukraine, to spiralling fuel and energy prices, we are heading into a serious recession and it looks like things will get worse before they get better.

A strike is not inevitable, though.

Talks have led to industrial action at Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council being halted. Belfast’s ratepayers will hope a similar solution can be found.

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