NIAS Declares 'Major Incident' Over Strike

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) has declared a 'major incident' after members of staff threatened strike action.

Ambulance staff and public service workers are taking part in a 24 hour strike today, Friday 13th March, over budget cuts.

All buses and trains have also been cancelled.

The NIAS Trust had reached an initial agreement with trade unions to provide cover for only emergencies on Friday, however the Ambulance Service said it had no choice but to declare a major incident to ensure the public's safety.

An NIAS spokesman said: "The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service has tonight been forced to declare a major incident to maintain a safe level of ambulance cover throughout the planned period of industrial action on Friday 13 March.
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"An already precarious position following agreement with trade unions has deteriorated to a situation where levels of cover are critical from midnight tonight. Belfast, Derry, Omagh Enniskillen, Lisburn are among towns that would be without ambulance cover from midnight, with other areas being left with seriously reduced levels of cover. This has placed these communities at serious risk in terms of ambulance provision.

"Despite their trade unions agreeing that staff would respond to life-threatening emergencies, the Trust has been inundated with staff phoning in to say: 'I am withdrawing my labour'.

"The Trust has been unable to illicit timely responses from trade union colleagues to communications informing them of the situation.

"NIAS has exhausted all alternative contingency options and lives would be at risk if we allowed the situation to deteriorate further. The Trust would expect staff to report for duty in response to this major incident in line with protocols agreed with trade union representatives."

The mass strike over Stormont budget cuts began at midnight.


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