Health and transport staff are set to strike

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Midwives in Lisburn are to go on strike after voting in favour of industrial action over a pay dispute.

The Royal College of Midwives announced on Tuesday (April 21) that they would take strike action on April 30.

RCM NI director Bredagh Hughes said midwives are calling for the 1% pay increase given to their colleagues in Wales, Scotland and England.

Members of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) intend to stop work for four hours.

They voted by 9-1 in favour of strike action - the first such vote in the college’s 134-year history.

The Department of Health said it was “disappointing” and that it would work with Trusts to ensure a safe service was provided to mothers and babies.

Lisburn’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Alexander Redpath said he had sympathy with the local midwives.

“I welcome the fact that this strike action is accompanied by guarantees from the Royal College of Midwives that emergency cover will be put in place and the safety of mothers and babies will not be compromised,” said Mr Redpath.

“I have enormous sympathy with the midwives taking strike action.

“Midwives are being expected to work under considerable pressure and deliver every increasing efficiency levels.”

Other health staff will also be taking part in industrial action. The Society of Radiographers will also strike for four hours on the same day as the midwives.

Unison and GMB members will begin a work to rule from Monday April 27 and ambulance crews will begin an overtime ban on the same day at 8am, which will last until 8pm on Sunday May 10.,

Commuters in Lisburn will also face disruption on Wednesday May 6 when transport unions take 24 hour strike action.

Unite said the second strike would affect Ulsterbus, Metro and NI Railways services.

Unite Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, said: “Unite estimates that the cuts to bus and rail services will save only six to seven million pounds – a meagre sum in terms of the wider budget.

“Yet these cuts will compromise the integrity and inter-connectivity upon which Northern Ireland’s public transport system rests. Our drivers and engineers are concerned that cuts to ‘non-economic’ services presage moves to break up and contract out profitable routes – a move that would undermine the eighty-five percent of routes that are non-profitable.

“I have written to both Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness requesting urgent meetings on funding for public transport.

“We believe that it is possible to find the resources to avert these cuts and the planned industrial action. Unite is willing to work in a process over a period of years to deliver genuine efficiency gains but we believe that these can be achieved primarily through tackling the bloated and triplicated, high-cost management rather than by targeting the jobs of drivers and engineers through the false economy of cutting front-line services. Unite will be working with the other trade unions representing workers in Translink in taking forward this action.

“We have commenced work with the Trades Councils and those representing vulnerable groups and communities dependent on public transport to organise a grassroots campaign to defend our public transport services.

In a statement, Translink said it was disappointing that passengers “could be inconvenienced” as a result of the proposed strike action “which comes at a time when many schoolchildren are preparing for or taking exams”.

“We are, of course, seeking to urgently meet with Unite to discuss this news that they are to go on strike on 6 May,” they said.