Services braced for strike day

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Schools, public transport and health are among a number of services in the area due to be hit by the public sector strike today (Friday).

The strike, by unions including Unite, GMB, Unison and the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), is over proposed budget and jobs cuts.

All Translink bus and rail services have been cancelled, and a number of schools will close.

With regard to school services, Ciaran Rogan of Translink said they had been in touch with the education and library boards to find out if schools were open on Friday and to discuss options for transport.

He apologised to all passengers who would be inconvenienced by the strike action which, he said, was beyond their control.

A number of schools, including Presentation PS and St John the Baptist PS, have taken the decision to shut.

Others, such as Portadown College, Bocombra PS and Hart Memorial PS, will remain open, while some were still undecided mid-week.

An SELB spokesperson said, “A number of trade unions, representing both teaching and non-teaching staff, have indicated that their members will be on strike. Members of some other teaching unions will be taking action short of strike.

“It is unclear as to what the impact on schools will be. School principals have been advised that they should make an assessment of the extent to which normal operations will be affected.”

UNISON’s Nurses Forum confirmed that its nurses and midwives will also be joining the picket lines. Eoin Stewart and Marion Ritchie, co-chairs of the forum, said, “Our Health Service is under severe pressure and we believe it is worth fighting for.

“Nurses don’t take this action lightly but we have a responsibility to our patients and professional standards are required to be adhered to, but are now under severe pressure due to budget cuts.”

A spokesman for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said it is working with trade union colleagues to ensure safe service provision during the strike action.

Meanwhile, Unison’s NI Ambulance branch said it also intends to take strike action. Members met senior management and made proposals for emergency cover.