Public transport services must be properly resourced not funded through workforce furlough

389Finance Minister’s public call for furlough of Translink workers without consultation challenged by trade union representing overwhelming majority of workforce

Davy Thompson, Unite Deputy Regional Secretary, with responsibility for his union’s members at Translink challenged public pronouncements by Finance Minister Conor Murphy which suggested that furloughing public transport workers could address longstanding problems of underfunding.

“The Finance Minister Conor Murphy should be mindful of discussing workers livelihood’s in the public domain and that furlough has not been discussed by the trade unions, management or the Department of Infrastructure at any point during this current crisis.  

 
“Our members working in Translink continue to put their lives at risk to ensure that other key workers, and those members of the general public with essential journeys to make, can be accommodated. Workers both front facing and behind the scenes have been working extremely hard to ensure that buses and trains have been maintained, cleaned and serviced during this crisis and will continue to ensure the safety of passengers is to the forefront of all that they do. 
 
“The lack of funding from Stormont both before and since the three year shutdown of devolved government has had and continues to have a negative impact across all the public services in Northern Ireland and is part of the reason that they were so currently ill-equipped to deal with the current Covid-19 pandemic. 
 
“While the rest of Europe is looking forward to unprecedented investment in public transport to enable a transition away from the car, Northern Ireland’s public transport company finds itself cash-starved. Translink has been burning off cash reserves since 2015-16 when as part of their austerity measures the Stormont Executive removed fuel duty rebate and imposed a budget reduction of £13 million pounds. The rebate which is enjoyed by virtually every other transport company in the UK and Europe is vital to the long-term sustainability of our existing service; the Minister for Finance must ensure that as we return to some form of normality public transport services are adequately resourced”, Mr Thompson finished.
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