Derry schools may close, no trains or buses on strike action day

Fri, 25/11/2011 - 15:16 -- Editor

No buses or trains will operate across Derry next Wednesday and parents have been warned to consult their child's school principal ahead of planned public sector strike action.

Translink have confirmed that no bus or train services will be operating and the Department of Education have warned parents that school staff do not have to declare their intention to strike until the last moment and to be prepared for the eventuality that schools may be closed.

A spokesman for the Department said: “Industrial action planned for 30 November may have an impact on local schools. In order to help parents and guardians be prepared for the day, the Education and Library Boards have written to all grant-aided schools asking principals to inform parents and guardians of the potential impact on their child’s school.

“Principals have been asked to advise on whether the school will be open on the day and, if their school will remain open, what effect there may be to transport and school meals services.

“Many schools have already informed parents and guardians of the impact which is enabling them to make alternative arrangements where appropriate.

“Parents should appreciate that individuals in schools and support services such as school transport who intend to strike are not obliged to declare their intention in advance and therefore the full impact of the strike may not become apparent until the day. The guidance from the Education and Library Boards, however, asks principals to communicate with parents at the earliest opportunity.”

Meanwhile the SDLP have declared that they will stand 'shoulder to shoulder' with striking workers.

Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey said: "No SDLP MLAs will cross picket lines during the public sector strike on November 30. While there may be those in the Stormont administration who want to project the image of ‘business as usual’ while public sector workers make their voices heard, our MLAs will be standing shoulder to shoulder with those who are protesting against stinging cuts to our services.
“We offer our wholehearted support to those taking a stand for high-quality public services and will be showing that support to our colleagues in NIPSA in particular by respecting their picket-line.”

The strike action is expected to cause widespread disruption across Northern Ireland and the UK unless an 11th hour agreement is reached.

Michael Dornan from the union, Unite, defended the strike action.

"There are people standing out there, losing money, losing a day's pay, but it is for something that they believe they are entitled to," he said.

"No-one wants this. We didn't take this lightly. It is not just about pensions. It is about the economy, about the elderly, about jobs and benefits. We believe we have a right to fight for our pension, it is ours, it should not be robbed from us. All we are saying as well as the health and education services is that, regrettably, we are going to take a stand for something we believe we are entitled to."

Mr Dornan said the strike could be averted.

"No-one wants this. We didn't take this lightly. It is not just about pensions. It is about the economy, about the elderly, about jobs and benefits. It is about the manner in which this Tory coalition is running government now."

Translink and affected educational services will return to normal on 1 December 2011.