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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

People urged to keep themselves safe as public workers set to strike

Grit lorry

Departments have reiterated the call for people to keep themselves safe on Thursday (18th January) with snow and ice forecast and widespread disruption to public services anticipated as a result of strike action.


The winter gritting service will be severely impacted and road users are being asked to think carefully about the need to travel. There will be no bus or train services.



The Department of Health believes that the disruption to services will be on a scale not experienced from previous industrial action and has asked the public to take all sensible steps to reduce the chances of requiring health service treatment on the day.


The Head of the Civil Service Jayne Brady met with department permanent secretaries earlier today to discuss the impacts on public services by the strike action and the need to keep people safe. They are due to meet again on Thursday and will continue to keep the situation under review.


There will be widespread disruption across the public sector and severe disruption anticipated to services.



These include:


Department for Infrastructure (DfI)


DfI is advising people not to travel unless essential and if they need to travel, to take particular care on Thursday and Friday given the potential for icy conditions and disruption to the gritting service.


Where possible, contingency plans are being put in place, but it is expected that there will be widespread disruption on Thursday, which will affect the following services:


  • Winter service – gritting of the road network;

  • Repair of serious infrastructure defects such as manhole collapse or potholes;

  • Prioritisation of assistance to those incidents with most impact to life and property;

  • Response and clear-up operation when there are incidents on the road such as oil spills or unexpected debris;

  • Drainage infrastructure clearing and cleansing;

  • MOT services and driving tests;

  • Strangford Ferry services;

  • A significant reduction in our capacity to respond to flood emergencies;

  • Significant delays in responding to calls to the flood incident line.



Department of Health (DoH)


DoH is extremely concerned about the potential impact of industrial action and while every effort will be made to mitigate the impact on the public, there will be widespread disruption to all aspects of health and social care services.


This is expected to impact across a wide range of areas including planned and unplanned (urgent/emergency) hospital services, community services such as day centres, district nursing and domiciliary care as well as ambulance cover.


The Department has asked the public to be very conscious of the fact that a significantly reduced health service will be in place. This would mean not just delays over and above existing levels but some services not being available at all.



It has asked the public to use services appropriately and help ensure care is available to those who need it most and to take all sensible steps to reduce your chances of requiring health service treatment on the day.


At the same time, if you need emergency hospital care on the day, you must seek it immediately.

Trusts will work with trade union representatives to seek to protect emergency care and information will be available on Trust websites.


Department for Communities (DfC)


The Department for Communities is working to minimise impact on customers, this includes ensuring that benefit payments due on Thursday 18 January will be paid by that date.



Other services likely to be impacted include:


  • Jobseeker's Allowance signing is excused on Thursday 18 January.

  • Customers may experience increased call waiting times on telephone services and online claim services.

  • Visitor Centre and toilets at Dundrum Castle will be closed but there will still be public access to the site. Other state care monument sites may be affected, visitors should check online.

  • Most sessions of the Appeals Tribunal have been postponed.

  • Some disruption to PRONI services is likely, including a reduced onsite service.



Other services impacted include:


  • Education bodies have said there will be severe disruption and widespread school closures impacting the vast majority of pupils.

  • Restricted court and tribunal service.

  • Potential reduced services at Land and Property Services offices, the General Register Office NI and DAERA Direct Offices (online services available).

  • Reduced Careers Service webchat availability.

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