Sinn Féin Workers’ Rights spokesperson Declan Kearney has said that responsibility for ongoing strike action by public transport workers rests with the British Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris and that he has the power to resolve the pay dispute.
Speaking from the picket line at Antrim Bus and Rail Station, the South Antrim MLA said:
“Transport workers are currently taking home 11% less pay in real terms. SIPTU, GMB an Unite unions have been left with no alternative to strike action following the British Secretary of State’s refusal to engage with representatives.
“He has also ignored an attempt by First Minister Designate Michelle O’Neill to break the impasse by urging him to meet the workers representatives.
“This type of reckless contempt from the British Secretary of State is unacceptable and has created chaos that will hurt workers, businesses, and citizens in the lead up to Christmas. He could have averted this strike action by establishing a mechanism to resolve this pay dispute. He should step up and do so immediately.
“The Tory government has now acknowledged public sector workers in the north are being underpaid. The public finance proposals tabled this week make provision to redress this pay inequality.
“Even at this late stage, Chris Heaton-Harris could release the funds to settle this dispute and avoid the next scheduled strike action 72 hours before Christmas Day, rather than leaving workers and everyone else waiting on the DUP to make its minds up.
“He does not need a process in Hillsborough to do the right thing and deliver a fair pay settlement for these workers and their families. That is what is now required.”