Public sector workers take to the streets of Lisburn

Public sector workers took to the streets of Lisburn last Friday (March 13) to protest at cuts to services.

The main picket line was at the Lagan Valley Hospital, where Unison members were joined by local politicians and members of the public.

There were also picket lines at local schools, including Laurelhill Community College and Lisnagarvey High School, as well as outside Lisburn City Library and at Bow House in the city centre.

Transport workers also joined the strike action, with commuters facing travel chaos as trains and buses were taken off the road.

Speaking ahead of the strike action, Unison Branch Secretary Peter McKenna said the action was a last resort but that workers felt they had to make their voices heard over cuts to services in the Lisburn area.

“Unison has not taken the decision to strike lightly and whilst we deeply regret the disruption to service users, we believe now is the time to take a stand. Strike action is always a last resort but we believe that the swinging cuts to all of our public services, and particularly on a local basis, to Lagan Valley hospital, are disastrous for patients and staff.

“Services are being cut at an unprecedented rate, and promised replacement services have not materialised.

“We believe the Trust are giving up on the Lagan Valley and relegating it to the status of a glorified health centre.

“Our staff have also been subject to real term pay reductions for a number of years whilst the pressure they are under continues to mount as a result of service closures across the country.”

Lisburn Councillor Alexander Redpath joined the picket line at the Lagan Valley Hospital early on Friday morning.

“This strike was a result of a number of issues but principally the withdrawal of services at the Lagan Valley Hospital,” said Mr Redpath.

“I support Unison in their defence of services at the Lagan Valley Hospital and I think it’s important that we listen to people at the coal-face about the best way to protect and enhance services.”