County braced for Friday’s big shutdown

Enniskillen Ulsterbus Station

Enniskillen Ulsterbus Station is a hive of activity most afternoons as school children make their way home to towns around the county after school

FERMANAGH is bracing itself for a health and public sector walkout which is expected to disrupt a raft of services this Friday.

Trade union members will take to the streets of Enniskillen over a planned protest linked to government cuts and pay disputes within the public sector.


Services that could see an all-out strike includes bus services, including public school transport, and ambulance services  while hospital staff, schools, jobs and benefits office and social security workers could also be involved, resulting in closures are restricted access.

Thousands of public sector workers are pressing ahead with their planned strike, set for this Friday ,
in response to the Stormont Executive’s budget cuts.

The North’s biggest health and education union, Unison, has been instrumental in leading the one-day strike.

Members from the local Ambulance Service are holding crisis talk with health service bosses this morning (Wednesday) to discuss what action they will taking on Friday.

Alistair Long, who is the branch secretary said he could not comment on what action they will be taking but did say that a 24-hour strike has “always been on the table” as part of the ballot.
This could mean there will be no 999 cover over a 24 hour period.

There will be no scheduled bus services on Friday while Translink said it was contacting education boards to find out if schools are open on Friday in which they will discuss options for transport.
It is not yet clear what health services will be affected, however a spokesman for the Western Health Trust said that “essential services” will be maintained, while a “reduced service” made available to patients and service users.

James Carey, who is the local branch secretary in the union with DEL (Department of Employment and Learning) issued a letter to this newspaper outlining his reasons for taking part in the strike.
Mr Carey, who works in Enniskillen’s Jobs and Benefits office, revealed that some 100 staff across his office and Social Security offices will be taking part in the strike.


“We don’t want to disrupt services but it has come to this,” he stated.
“It’s nothing against the people we are providing services for. This is a necessity.

“Another big threat we face is to redeployment which has been brought on by the welfare reforms. Some of us could be moved to Derry or Belfast and travel up to three to four hours a day. It would be a disaster to family members.

“The majority of the office will be out, it will still be open to the public as there will be non-members there providing normal services.
“This Friday, myself and several thousand public service workers will engage in strike action. There are numerous reasons why I think this is necessary.”

Meanwhile, Ciaran Rogan of Translink, apologised to passengers.

“I think it is important to give people as much notice as possible in order that they may make alternative arrangements for travel on that day.”

Phil Flanagan told the Fermanagh Herald: “I fully support the right of workers to go on strike. I fully intend to join the protesters in Enniskillen on Friday to add my voice to that of the trade unions and their members calling for proper employment rights and for fair treatment.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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