Public transport funding needed to ensure cost of living pay increase for workforce

Workers from Unite, GMB and SIPTU will take 24-hour strike action commencing from 00.01am Friday [1 December] in pursuit of a cost of living pay increase. 

The strike action will affect bus and rail services across Northern Ireland and the action by members of all three public transport unions is likely to mean that no services will operate throughout the day. The strike is the first to occur on bus and rail since 2015. 

The industrial action follows coordinated strike ballots held by the three unions which returned overwhelming support for industrial action. Bus workers in Unite voted 96.5 per cent for strike, Translink workers in GMB voted 95.6 per cent for strike and in SIPTU by 93.1 per cent.  The ballots were conducted after workers rejected a pay freeze– equivalent to a 11 per cent real-terms pay cut once (RPI) inflation is taken into account.  

A meeting between the unions and the permanent secretary of the department for infrastructure confirmed the primary problem is the austerity budget imposed by secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “To attempt to impose a pay freeze is sickening in what is the worst cost of living crisis for workers in decades. “In taking strike action, our members can be confident of the full and continuing support of Unite.