DUP Slams Strikes Proposal

A prominent member of the DUP has slammed a major union's agreement to possible strike action over public sector pension reductions.

DUP vice-chairman of the Health Committee, Jim Wells, challenged major teachers and health workers union Unison to draw back from their threat of strike action, after it backed suggestions by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to engage in "a day of action" if pension cuts went ahead.

Mr Wells said strike action would leave health workers out of pocket and not help improve outcomes for patients.

"It is deeply unfortunate that some trade union representatives seem more intent on having strike action rather than working to reach a solution to their concerns. Such a response and strategy is neither productive for health workers nor the patients who use our hospitals.

"I appeal to Unison members, currently being balloted about strike action, to step back from the brink and question how such action will benefit nursing staff."

Mr Wells added that while Unison management "encouraged" strike action, grassroots members should recognise they will be left out of pocket for days lost while on strike yet the "pay for union managers will keep rolling".

Mr Well's comments come as General Secretary of the United Kingdom's TUC, Brendan Barber, announced during this week's union conference in London that unions were prepared to undertake "co-ordinated" strike action over reductions to public sector pensions.

Mr Barber said on Wednesday he was "fully committed to exhausting every possible negotiating opportunity". However, he added that he knew how difficult it is for low paid workers, already hit with an "unjust pay freeze" and "fearful for their jobs", to face the loss of income when on strike.

"But if talks cannot make a breakthrough then unions are right and fully justified to plan for action," he said.


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