People demanding an alternative to Stormont political consensus for austerity
March 13th: Workers across Northern Ireland engaged in a one-day strike to say ‘enough is enough – hands off our public services’.
Today’s strike, called in response to the Stormont ‘austerity budget’, saw an unprecedented mobilisation of public sector workers across a wide range of workplaces. Speaking this afternoon, Jackie Pollock, deputy Regional Secretary of Unite gave an initial assessment of the strike:
“From our soundings over the past number of weeks, as well as from the strike ballots, we knew there would be a good turnout – but the scale of today’s response took us by surprise, as did the overwhelming support shown by members of the public.
“Working people know that cuts do not equal savings – and that you do not generate recovery by cutting the heart out of the public services on which individuals, communities and the Northern Ireland economy rely.
“Today, workers brought much of Northern Ireland to a standstill. We did so because we face at least four more years of cuts that threaten to bring Northern Ireland to a standstill not just for one day, but for decades to come.
“All the parties in the Stormont Executive are joined at the hip in their desire to throw hundreds of millions to slash corporate taxes and turn Northern Ireland into a global tax haven. But then the same parties try to hide behind Westminster budgetary pressures when they implement devastating cuts to public services telling us that there’s not enough in the budget they’re given.
“Today showed that more and more people around Northern Ireland are seeing through these smoke and mirror exercises and demanding an alternative to endless austerity.
“This is just the first mass mobilisation in a campaign which will continue until the politicians in Stormont listen. Unite is already looking at dates for subsequent actions with a view to building a broad, people-power campaign to force politicians to abandon their cuts agenda and instead adopt an agenda focussed on investment, jobs and growth”, Mr Pollock concluded.