Having been involved in the trade union movement since 1978, Jim Quinn has been on the front line of many pickets and strike actions in Fermanagh.

And he is still going strong, as he continues to fight for the rights of workers across the county.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter as he stood in solidarity with Royal Mail workers on strike on Wednesday, Jim, who is part of the Fermanagh Council of Trade Unions, spoke of how people are starting to collectivise again and the support that is out there for the trade unions and what they are doing.

“The interesting thing about the current situation is - I watched the drive towards individualism which came with Thatcherism in 78/79 - and I think what we are seeing this summer is the move away from that individualism and people are starting to collectivise again. They are saying the only way we are going to survive the current recession is if we are going to stand together,” Jim explained.

“That’s the first time I have seen it on such a widespread basis in all those years.

“People have been fighting for their rights throughout those 40 years but this is the first time I have seen this summer of solidarity if you like, this summer of collectivism. And that’s because people are struggling.”

Throughout the UK and Northern Ireland, strikes have become widespread over recent months as workers fight for their jobs, better wages, and pensions and against redundancies.

And with an ongoing and ever-worsening cost-of-living crisis, these conditions are at the forefront of everyday life as people struggle to make ends meet.

And while strikes bring disruption, Jim said the public understands the reasoning behind them: “The amount of support that is being given. I have been on picket lines with education workers, local authority workers, health workers now the BT workers and there has been no hostility towards any of those strikers on any of the picket lines I have been involved in.

“People understand, even people who aren’t members of trade unions now understand the difficulties that ordinary people are facing.

“At present, there are families this winter who are going to do without heat and without food. There’s only one movement that is doing anything about that who is responding to that and that is the trade union movement.

“We have got raging inflation which hasn’t been caused by wage increases because we haven’t got them. So what’s causing it?”

Jim believes the pay at the top of business has spiralled out of control while those at the bottom are being ignored and people are now responding to that.

“People come out and strike because they are scared and angry about their particular individual circumstances and their family circumstances and people know they are not going to be able to pay the bills.

“So it’s workers’ anger you are dealing with now.”

Jim would have mixed views on a general or mass strike as he feels the government could use it as a way to show trade unions were undermining democracy. The current actions will continue, however, as unions and individuals fight for their rights.

And while there have been reports of the Conservative government looking at legislation to hinder trade union influence, Jim is confident, the unions will continue to operate.

“It wouldn’t be the first Tory government to try to stop trade unions from operating.

“They are making an assault on people’s democratic rights to fight for their rights at work and we are ready to face that,” Jim added.