Friday 9 December 2016

Strikes will be devastating for an already hard-pressed public

It is the ordinary punters already struggling to cope who will feel the impact of escalated industrial action, writes Maeve Sheehan

Published 14/03/2010 | 05:00

FESTERING bins and litter strewn streets, harassed parents forced to duck out of work they are lucky to have in order to look after children abandoned by their striking teachers. Carers whose job it is to look after elderly people in nursing homes around the country off for two days. Hospital porters, whose duty includes wheeling ill patients to and from operating theatres, on strike for 48 hours.

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This is the appalling vista that lies ahead for taxpayers, should public sector workers escalate their industrial action to protect pay scales that are amongst the most generous in Europe. Since their work-to-rule on January 25, public sector unions have insisted that they wanted to hit the Government and spare the public.

But it was ordinary punters who were affected when phones went unanswered, when social welfare offices closed up shop on the queues of unemployed and needy waiting to collect benefits, and when passport officials refused to deal with the public for hours on end. Should they proceed to their next stage of "withdrawal of labour" -- union speak for a mass work walk-out -- the effects on thousands of ordinary people struggling to keep things going in a recession will be even more severe.

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