Jimmy Kelly is seeking meeting with both First and deputy First Ministers to secure funding for bus and rail services
April 19th: Unite Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, has confirmed that his union is to proceed with a second one-day stoppage in Translink on Wednesday, May 6th as mandated by a vote for industrial action by workers in February.
“The proposed cuts to bus and rail services being brought forward by Translink will impact the most vulnerable people in our society – including the old and infirm, those with families, the working poor, those living in isolated, rural communities who are dependent on public transport. Cuts are being proposed to hospital runs, shopping services, rural routes and town centre buses as well as to cuts to morning, evening and Saturday rail services on the Larne-Belfast and Newry-Bangor lines.
“These cuts will force increasing numbers onto the roads at a time when funding for Roads maintenance budgets is being cut to the bone and roads maintenance workers confined to depots for lack of tar, concrete or diesel. There can be no excuse for these cuts at a time when the NI Executive can find £325 million to fund the costs of achieving global tax haven status.
“Unite estimates that the cuts to bus and rail services will save only six to seven million pounds – a meagre sum in terms of the wider budget. Yet these cuts will compromise the integrity and inter-connectivity upon which Northern Ireland’s public transport system rests. Our drivers and engineers are concerned that cuts to ‘non-economic’ services presage moves to break up and contract out profitable routes – a move that would undermine the eighty-five percent of routes that are non-profitable.
“I have written to both Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness requesting urgent meetings on funding for public transport. We believe that it is possible to find the resources to avert these cuts and the planned industrial action. Unite is willing to work in a process over a period of years to deliver genuine efficiency gains but we believe that these can be achieved primarily through tackling the bloated and triplicated, high-cost management rather than by targeting the jobs of drivers and engineers through the false economy of cutting front-line services.
“Unite will be working with the other trade unions representing workers in Translink in taking forward this action. We have commenced work with the Trades Councils and those representing vulnerable groups and communities dependent on public transport to organise a grassroots campaign to defend our public transport services”, Mr Kelly concluded.