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You have your say on the strike

By Ciara Quinn

THE rain stayed away across West Belfast yesterday as public sector workers took to the picket lines outside our local schools, transport and hospitals services, protesting over threats to their pensions and the fear of further deeper cuts to vital services.

Staff from the major public sector unions, NIPSA, Unison and Unite, claim that the British government is being unfair by pumping billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into keeping banks afloat – yet want to target the hard-earned money of ordinary workers who had nothing to do with causing the financial meltdown.

The strike of public sector workers comes less than two months after UNISON took to the streets in a 24-hour stoppage over budgets cuts to health and education services.

We took to the Kennedy Centre mall to ask the local community for their thoughts on the massive strike.

Freda Brady from the upper Springfield said the strike action would not be affecting her directly. “I know that the buses and trains are going off on strike but it won’t affect me transportwise as I can still get a black taxi.”

Twinbrook resident Phyllis Wilson told the Andersonstown News she understood the need for strike action. “I understand the need for people to protect their working rights and pensions but I use the Metro bus service all the time and I would concerned about the impact of the strike on the hospitals,” she said.

“The fat cats got too greedy and it’s the ordinary working-class people who have to pick up the pieces,” said Shaws Avenue’s Maura Campbell. “I can understand the need for the strikes – it was the bankers who made the mess in the first place and the government is just letting them away with what they have done. These people that are striking are losing a day’s pay as well – the decision to strike wasn’t taken lightly, I’m sure.”

Stephen de Meulemeester said: “It’s a hard situation to be faced with, but the strikes are probably necessary the way our public services have been left – but at the end of the day it’s not ideal for patients who need to use vital hospital services.”

Finally, Peggy Martin from Andersonstown said she understood where the public sector workers were coming from in relation to industrial action. “The government are trying to take away from the people who are working hard and if you ask me you should be able to retire at 60 – no questions asked.”


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