On 11 December, the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) union held a very successful one-day strike. This was in protest against the derisory pay deal imposed by central government – a 0% cost of living rise. When increased National Insurance payments and inflation are taken into account, it amounts to a pay cut.
About 90% of the union’s 24,000 members in the civil service came out, affecting offices all over Northern Ireland.
Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) members on the NIPSA civil service executive successfully argued for pickets on all workplaces. They also argued for another executive meeting before the strike to set further strike dates, as well as the planned work to rule and overtime ban. This was defeated, although the executive will meet again in January.
This strike was important because it took place amongst the civil service section of NIPSA, where the right-wing has most support. It has given a boost to the ‘Time for Change’ platform within the union, particularly as the union executive elections take place soon.
Socialist Party member, and NIPSA President, Carmel Gates, and other union activists, organised a meeting point for strikers in the centre of Belfast. 300 strikers marched from there to the 500-strong strike rally, where Carmel spoke. 40 copies of Socialist Party’s paper, Socialist Voice, were sold.
Carmel Gates toured at least 20 picket lines, accompanied by six fire-fighters, including Socialist Party member Jim Barbour.
Socialist Party member, Paul Dale, organised the strike in Enniskillen town, in Country Fermanagh, and publicised a strikers’ lunchtime meeting, which 25 people attended. Twenty copies of Socialist Voice were sold.