PUBLIC SERVICES AT A STANDSTILL

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THOUSANDS of public sector workers across the Borough walked out on strike yesterday (Wednesday) in protest against budget cuts, job losses and pension reforms.

The industrial action, taken by dozens of unions, led to school closures and public transport disruption.

Among the schools closed in the area were St Michael’s, Tannaghmore and Carrick.

Union members staged pickets at Marlborough House, Craigavon Civic Centre and Lurgan Library, as well as other public buildings.

All Translink buses and trains across Northern Ireland were cancelled for the day.

Roger Clifford, president of Craigavon Trades Council, said there was “wide-spread public support” for the strike.

“This will go down as one of the biggest days of strike action in Northern Ireland’s history,” he said.

The Trade Council held a short rally at the Carngrove Hotel for those on strike.

“As the Trades Council has stated on numerous occasions, the cuts to services that will inevitably follow in the coming months will impact on all but the wealthiest in our community.

“Perversely, those least able to afford it will be made to pay for the mismanagement of the economy.”

One NIPSA member, who works at the Southern Regional College, described the strike as “vitally important”.

“The change in public opinion is huge,” he said.

“There are lots of people, even in my own work place, who were previously opposed to strike action. Now they are standing on the picket lines.

“The cuts are starting to bite, and our members are faced with no other option other than to take industrial action to defend our terms and conditions.”

Colin Cowan, chair of one local NIPSA branch, said: “We are only striking as a last resort. We all need to take a stand against these cuts.

“Will we all sit back and take them while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Just look at the empty shops in our local towns and the high level of youth unemployment.”