On June 24 over 150 GMB members at Translink went on a 24-hour strike across Northern Ireland. The workers, mostly platform staff and train conductors, took action over pay and conditions. The strike was well supported and Translink were forced to reduce the train services to one third of normal flow.
Those on the picket line at Central Station in Belfast were clear as to what the strike was over; health and safety concerns for passengers, the danger of a less trained work force and further erosion of pay in real terms. Moves to make it easier for Translink management to sack workers are also part of their grievances.
These workers fulfill important jobs and are vital in the provision of a secure service. Already the support offered by Translink is not sufficient. If a worker feels the need to take more than 2 days off after witnessing a suicide at work, for example, they are forced to take regular sick days. This compares to 2 weeks automatic leave offered to train drivers who witness the same event.
The mood on the picket line was angry and determined. The strike highlights the effects of cut backs and the drive to lower training standards and staffing levels. GMB members should be supported in the action they have taken which should be the first step in a determined campaign to defend existing terms and conditions as well as fighting to improve conditions for all Translink staff.