STRIKE ACTION

PUBLIC sector workers in the Coleraine area will take part in one of the biggest strikes for a generation on Wednesday.

Unite, Unison, GMB, TSSA and SIPTU unions have all voted for industrial action which is set to severly affect council, health and education services across the borough.

Picket lines will be manned in Coleraine with up to two million workers across the UK taking action in a row over pensions, pay freezes and job cuts in the public sector.

The strike action is expected to cause widespread disruption - with teachers, health workers and transport staff all among those joining the pickets.

Translink will not operate any local bus or rail services on Wednesday.

Ciaran Rogan, Marketing Executive said, “We apologise and appreciate many passengers will be inconvenienced by this industrial action and want to give as much notice as possible in order that people may make alternative arrangements for travel on that day.

“We are disappointed and regret the impact this will have on our customers but unfortunately this is beyond our control and we must be guided by passenger safety first and foremost.”

Services will return to normal on the Thursday. Translink says it is awaiting information from the Education and Library Boards to learn their needs for the day and will discuss options for school transport.

Coleraine Borough Council said the strike would affect the delivery of its services.

A spokesperson said: “It is unlikely that residents will have their black bin emptied on Wednesday, November 30, however Council asks that bins are put out as usual. Any black bins that are not emptied on that Wednesday will be emptied on Thursday or Friday, December 1-2.

“Coleraine Borough Council apologises to its residents for the inconvenience that this causes to them. If you have any queries regarding your bin collection please contact 028 7034 7272.”

A number of schools, playgroups and nurseries are also expected to close. The North Eastern Education and Library Board has issued guidance to schools in relation to the strrike.

A spokesperson said yesterday: “It appears that virtually all the unions representing both teaching and non-teaching staff in schools will be taking part in the action. School meals and transport workers as well as teachers and support staff could be involved.

“The Board has advised school principals to try to clarify who in their school will be absent on the day and as a result assess the risks and determine whether or not their school can remain open to pupils. They should then arrange to communicate this to parents as quickly as possible.”

A Housing Executive spokesperson said: “As a consequence of the widespread industrial action we anticipate that Housing Executive services will be significantly disrupted.

“On Wednesday we will only be taking calls for emergency repairs and homelessness through one number 03448 920 901.”

Unison leader Dave Prentis said there was “absolutely no chance” of reaching a deal before Wednesday over the Government’s controversial pension reforms. “It could be the biggest action since the 1926 General Strike,” Mr Prentis predicted.

Mr Prentis warned of further industrial action in the new year if the dispute is not resolved: “It could involve rolling programmes, region by region, service by service, workers within particular services - nothing is ruled out at this stage.”

Passengers at airports and ports have been warned to expect huge queues because of action by immigration and passport officers. NHS operations and appointments are being cancelled and rescheduled because of action by NHS staff ranging from nurses to radiographers.

Across the country Jobcentres will close, Government departments will operate on skeleton staff and courts staff will also join the day of action, causing the cancellation of cases and the closure of many court buildings.