December 14, 2023
Heaton-Harris has the power to prevent transport strike – Kearney

Sinn Féin Workers’ Rights spokesperson Declan Kearney has said that responsibility for the planned 48 hours 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 after an eve of strike press conference by SIPTU, GMB and UNITE union representatives, the South Antrim MLA said:

“These unions have been left with no alternative other than to undertake this programme of strike action. Transport workers are currently taking home 11% less pay in real terms. Their representatives sought a meeting with the British Secretary of State on 1 November and he did not reply.

“Last week First Minister Designate Michelle O’Neill attempted to break the impasse by urging him to meet the workers representatives and he has also ignored that request.

“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 has the power to avert the transport strike 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 imminent strike, 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.”

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