Striking Larne public sector workers say they are working in “soul-destroying” conditions and fear for the future of local health services.
Healthcare staff from Gloucester Park Day Centre, Larne Adult Centre and Lisgarel Nursing Home joined thousands of staff in education, public transport and administration striking across the Province on Friday March 13 in protest at job and budget cuts linked to the Stormont House agreement and budget.
Unions taking part in the industrial action included Unite, GMB, nipsa, Unison and the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation.
Around 50 Unison members manned a picket line at the Moyle Hospital site.
Unison organiser Anne Fulton has been a nurse in the Northern Trust area for 35 years, and is currently on secondment to the union from Inver Intermediate Care Unit.
She told The Times that around 500 members of various unions were out on strike across the town.
She stated: “We felt we had to strike because of bed shortages, contracts and cutbacks.
“Pay is not the whole picture; we felt we had to make a stand as enough is enough.
“I have seen nurses in Antrim Area Hospital in tears, our health service is crumbling at the sides.
“The Lisgarel workers here are concerned that the home will disappear as there are only 13 permanent residents and not long ago there was talk about closing Lisgarel.
“We don’t know what’s round the corner with these cuts; we think this is our only chance to stand up and say enough is enough, we need more not less.”
Several local schools said that their teaching staff would not be taking part in the strike.
These included Larne Grammar, Larne High, Larne and Inver Primary School, Moyle Primary School, Olderfleet Primary School, Corran Integrated Primary School, Roddensvale and Linn Primary School.
However, many schools have warned parents to expect an impact on bus services.
St Killian’s College closed due to the strike.
Staff at Larne Library said their services would be unaffected by the strike.
A Larne Borough Council spokesperson said that they were not aware of any disruption to council services.
For the full story on the strike’s impact on Larne, see this week’s Larne Times, in shops from Wednesday March 18.