December 5, 2023
British government failure to engage with transport unions is unacceptable – Kearney

Sinn Féin’s Workers’ Rights spokesperson Declan Kearney has criticised the British Secretary of State in the north for failing to meet with unions representing transport workers.

Speaking after meeting representatives from the SIPTU, GMB and Unite trade unions, the South Antrim MLA said:

“Today a Sinn Féin delegation met with union representatives regarding the strike action by Translink staff.

“Public transport workers provide an essential service in our society and they deserve a proper pay settlement, as well as our solidarity and support.

“We need to be investing in our public transport, but instead Tory cuts are stripping back capacity and starving these services of the required resources. The current take home pay for the staff who operate train and bus services in this region has already reduced in real terms by 11%. That creates an impossible situation for these workers and their families.

“Union representatives said that the decisions made by this British Secretary of State, have effectively handcuffed the Translink management from being able to deliver a fair pay settlement, while the Department of Infrastructure is already running a £70 million deficit due to Tory cuts in the north.  

“The trade unions have been left with no alternative than to pursue a programme of strike action. But it is nothing short of scandalous that Chris Heaton Harris has ignored union requests for a meeting to discuss a mechanism to resolve this pay dispute. His office has not even acknowledged the latest union invitation to meet, issued on 1st November. This type of indifference and arrogance is absolutely unacceptable.  

“Tory austerity has created this crisis within our public transport system. In the absence of even showing a willingness to meet with SIPTU, GMB and Unite representatives, then responsibility for the strike action being taken by these trade unions rests entirely with Chris Heaton-Harris and his government.

“He can avert future industrial action by meeting the workers’ representatives and resolving this pay issue through proper negotiations. This British Secretary of State should start engaging, instead of persisting with the callous and disgraceful cuts that are harming workers and families across the north.”

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