All three leading public transport unions representing frontline public transport workers report large majorities for strike action and action short of strike action among Translink employees responding in recent industrial action ballots.
Unite reported a vote for strike action of 95.5%; GMB of 95.6% for strike and SIPTU of 93.1% - all on turnouts of 60% to 70%.
The votes were taken by all three unions over a three-week period and followed a zero-percent pay offer by Translink management with no date being provided for talks on an improved pay offer.
Translink and the Department for Infrastructure which funds them are pointing the finger of blame for the situation at the inadequacy of budgets provided as a result of the budget settlement imposed by the Secretary of State.
The ballot results are unprecedented in that they were conducted by all three unions representing frontline Translink workers. Strike action on both bus and rail services is now inevitable unless an improved pay offer is made by Translink management.
The three unions are convening a joint meeting of officials and senior workplace representatives to agree next steps and an initial schedule of strike action.
Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham laid the blame for the strike with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
“Chris Heaton-Harris has imposed a brutal budget settlement on the Department for Infrastructure which provides no funding for a pay increase for bus and rail workers.
"Translink workers have voted overwhelmingly for strike action – the Secretary of State must now intervene to properly fund public transport in order to avoid what will be a debilitating and disruption strike action on the public transport system of Northern Ireland.”
GMB Regional Organiser Peter Macklin welcomed the results of the strike ballot:
“This strike ballot provides a strong mandate from our members for strike action on both bus and rail services. The reality is that if all three frontline public transport unions strike it will bring all bus and rail services to a standstill. We will be meeting in the days ahead to agree a schedule and strategy for strike action to secure an improvement to members’ pay.”
SIPTU Senior Organiser Niall McNally highlighted the impact strikes would have in the pre-Christmas period.
“Strike action is always a last resort for workers and their unions. No worker wants to be in the situation of taking strike action in the run-up to Christmas but Chris Heaton-Harris’ budget settlement leaves our members with no alternative.
"We recognise the dislocation and economic scarring that will result from a public transport strike but our members cannot accept a pay freeze in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis in a generation.”
Representatives of all three trade unions are meeting with a delegation from Hospitality Ulster and Retail Northern Ireland to discuss potential impacts for these sectors of a public transport today.