Wednesday, March 29, 2023

‘Complete shutdown’ of Translink services to begin next week

A ‘complete shutdown’ of services in Northern Ireland will kick off soon during the same week as some A-Level exams.

Planned strike action last month by the GMB and Unite unions was called off after Translink made a revised pay offer, but unions rejected the offer on Monday.

The industrial action will now take place for seven days, starting next week and will include drivers, cleaners and shunters.

Read more:Translink strike action ‘back on’ after members reject pay offer

What date is the strike action?

Industrial action will last for seven days from Tuesday May 17 to Monday 23, 2022.

What have unions said?

GMB regional organizer Peter Macklin said: “Translink bus workers have once again shown their anger and frustration with the company.

“They were proud to carry out their duty during the pandemic, despite potentially putting themselves and their families lives at risk.

“Now they need some help to tackle the crushing cost-of-living crisis they face, but bosses aren’t listening.

“The dispute, which affects bus drivers, cleaners and shunters, will close the entire bus network within Northern Ireland. It will be a complete shutdown.”

Translink say they’re ‘disappointed’

A Translink and said: “We are disappointed to learn that Unite and GMB bus driver trade unions, by a relatively slim margin, have voted to take unprecedented industrial action from Tuesday May 17 to May 23.

“Following extensive negotiations, we made a further substantial offer for 2021, including an enhanced package of conditions, that we believe is fair and reasonable.

“At this stage, having exhausted all options, we will start to take the difficult decisions in preparing for the impact of the strike action.

“However, we remain committed to working with the unions to avert this action.

“We would welcome the opportunity to engage with unions to cover school duties, so that the wellbeing of schoolchildren can remain a priority, particularly as many enter the exam period.

“All train services will continue to operate as normal. Translink apologises for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Parents raise concerns about transport to and from school

Belfast Live spoke to parents who say while they are not being critical of any party, they are worried about stresses caused trying to arrange school transport.

May 17 also marks the beginning of some A-Level exams for children in Northern Ireland – and “on top of that worry, they are now worried about the buses too”.

One parent, who lives in Glenariff said: “My two children get two buses to school, one at 7.50am and then another from the terminal to school.

“It isn’t a school bus, just the normal Translink service bus, which will be off for that week.

“At the minute, we only have one car. My wife works from home and I take the car to work – I am going to have to rearrange my day to make sure the children get to school. Not that it is the end of the world for me, we are lucky that we can do that, but I am sure there are others who cannot.

“My son is sitting his AS-Level exams this year, the same week as the strikes and this will be his first sit down exam since the pandemic. He is already pretty stressed out about that.”

Another parent echoed those thoughts – he said “the stress is unreal”.

Frequent travelers query refunds

Those who use Translink travel often, and pre-pay for passes, have asked whether they are eligible for refunds.

One man asked: “I have a monthly bus travel card. What is the procedure for claiming a partial refund if next weeks strike takes place?”

A Translink spokesperson responded saying: “We remain committed to working with the unions to avert this action and we will communicate relevant passenger information through our website and social media channels as we receive more information.”

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Nation World News Desk
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