Thousands of union members strike

Published Thursday, 10 May 2012
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Thousands of public sector workers across Northern Ireland took to the picket lines in a row over pensions, pay and jobs.

Thousands of union members strike
Workers are protesting across the UK. (© NIPSA)

The industrial action came as part of a national day of protest, with up to 400,000 union members taking part in demonstrations across the UK.

Around 2,000 Home Civil Service members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) walked out in NI, including customs and Border Agency staff.

They organised picket lines outside their places of work, with two major lunchtime rallies taking place in Belfast and Londonderry.

Trade unionists from NIPSA, Unite and UCU also participated in the 24-hour strike action on Thursday.

They protested against what they call attacks by the Coalition Government on pensions, claiming they will be forced to work longer and get less when they retire.

General Secretary of NIPSA, Brian Campfield, said: "The Government attack on public service pensions is an integral part of its austerity agenda which has, at its core, the objective of making the ordinary citizen pay for a financial and economic crisis that is not of their making.

"What we are witnessing is not just a series of measures to reduce public expenditure but a strategy to introduce a US style of public service provision.

"This will have the private sector at its heart and will undermine the provision of important public services free at the point of use, in favour of an insurance and direct payment based approach, which will lead to greater inequality and social exclusion."

The walkout followed a massive strike organised by public sector workers last November.

Most unions remain opposed to the pension reforms, with the fresh action fuelled by ministers making clear in the Queen's Speech on Wednesday that they would press ahead with the changes.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has described the strike as "futile" and insisted that talks over pensions will not be reopened.

"It is very disappointing that a handful of unions insist on carrying on with futile strike action which will benefit no one," Mr Maude said.

"We would urge these union leaders to reconsider their position. Pension talks will not be reopened and nothing further will be achieved through strike action."

© UTV News
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17 Comments
Jim in Bangor wrote (804 days ago):
They talk about £5,000 pension but when you add state pension on to that it comes to more like a pension of £10,587.40 for one person for a couple its £16,330.80 compared to a private sector worker who can'nt pay into a pension would get for a single person £5,587.40 a married couple gets £11.330.80 the public sector works have nothing to complaint about they still do better than private sector works. They are the most selfish members of are country
Nick Kent in London wrote (804 days ago):
Public sector jobs are generally paid at a lower rate than those in the private sector. The attraction of a public sector job is the small pension and the relative security of the job. Why shouldn't workers withdraw their labour as some govt Apparatchik decides to change their conditions at the stroke of a pen? Those of you in the private sector moaning about the public sector being lazy etc. Your jealousy won't change your situation if you feel so strongly why did you not get a job in the public sector? The private sector wasn't complaing in the boom years when electricians & plumbers were buying up half of Belfast and becoming landlords overnight. HARD WORKER IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR you need to know the difference between the private and public sectors.
ulster planter in belfast wrote (806 days ago):
Yes lets all accept poorer working conditions and reduced pensions. Its a race to the bottom for all working class people. The audacity of a average public sector worker hoping to cling on to a five thousand pound a year pension having worked a lifetime for it . In the boom years private sector workers especially construction workers earned considerably more than their public sector counterparts. Did they save it ? Remember that the private sector will have less revenue coming in as a direct result of these cuts. Waken up people we are fighting amongst ourselves for the few crumbs remaining whilst government and the banks have a good laugh at our expense.Lord it over us Hutton should hold his head in shame.
HARD WORKER IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR in Belfast City wrote (806 days ago):
interestingly, wehn I was driving to work yesterday (at a set time as I do not have flxy hours) there wer 2 protestors at the gates to the Stormont offices with a placard, also in Chicher strett there were 3 protestors outside tha DHSS office there, this was between the hours of 8am and 8.30am so maybe they had flexi protesting! many of the peopel I know who work in the public sector have littele or NO pension pot, as it has been hard for them to svae for the future. Those in the private sector are extremely fortunate to have what they have built up for them in thier pension pots and they should understnad this. It seems that greed is the motivation of the protestors, after all it is all the taxpayers who are paying for all the pensions in the private sector.
Frosty in Here wrote (806 days ago):
The money they're on? Are you serious? Am sure it's not much different now but when I was in the civil service, I was on £110 a week, paid monthly, out of which I had to pay £35 a week rent, my coal, electric, phone, travel to work and my meals, so basically I was working in Belfast just to work in Belfast, all the pressure of being a public servant, remember in the private sector the customer can go elsewhere, yet not one iota of joy and A pint at the end of the month, which started in debt as there is no help available for anyone starting work, be it in the public or private sector. By the way, I only managed to bump my wages up to £110 by opting out of the pension scheme. That was 1998. Wages have no doubt gone up, but then so have the prices. However, I think the strike action is pretty pointless, it needs to be a sustained effort on a national basis against the austerity measures. Hit the taxman where it hurts, don't spend.
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