WORKERS in Fermanagh will take to the streets today in what is set to be the largest strike in living memory.

The strikes will see a range of professions taking to the pickets, including road workers, bus drivers, teachers, nurses and health staff and civil servants.

Today’s action centres on pay parity, cost of living increases and properly funded public services.

Drivers are being warned to brace themselves for travel chaos as gritters pause services to take to the pickets amid sub-zero temperatures.

According to the MET office, a Yellow Weather Warning is in place until midday, with icy conditions coinciding with unprecedented strike action that is set to impact a range of services.

Among these services is gritting and general road maintenance, and the Department for Infrastructure has advised road users to take particular care during icy conditions.

And as warnings of widespread road disruption abound, the centre of Enniskillen is also set to come to a standstill at 1pm with a major march and demonstration taking place in support of striking workers.

The demonstration will involve six out of the estimated nine unions in the county, with a march setting off from Brook Park at 1pm, and concluding at the Townhall at the Diamond.

It will be led by the banner of the Fermanagh Council of Trades Unions (FCTU), followed by the flags of each of the participating unions – including the historic Jim Brown banner of the local Unite the Union Branch.


The demonstration will be addressed by a number of speakers representing trade unions across health, teaching and the public sector.

As the strikes play out, the Department for Infrastructure has further warned that other services – including MOT and driving tests, pothole repairs and flood responses – will also be put on hold.

Meanwhile, a joint statement from the Chief Executives of Health Trusts also warned of disruption “on a massive and unprecedented scale” within services that are currently under “enormous strain”.

The statement, which included the Western Trust’s Chief Executive, Neil Guckian, warned that only “minimal and emergency services” will be available during the current 24-hour strike period.

It is expected that all health and social care services will be impacted, including hospitals, community care and ambulances.

The joint statement called for staff to be “properly rewarded for their work”, adding that “much-needed progress” had been hampered by “years of political and budgetary instability”.

And on a similar note, the Education Authority have also warned of widespread disruption that will have an impact on all service areas.

The Deputy Chair of the Northern Ireland General Practitioners Committee, Frances O’Hagan, said the GPs will be operating – but services around them will not.

“Your GP will still be operating but all our other services around us won’t be operating, which will impact the service we can deliver,” she warned.

“We won’t have any treatment rooms operating, so you can’t get your bloods done, can’t get your dressings done, can’t get an ECG done, and there’s no transport for the labs, so even if you did get your bloods done they can’t go to the labs.”

However, she added that an emergency-only service will be in place for things that can’t wait until the next day, such as a heart problem.

The Department for Communities has said they are working to minimise the impact on customers, and have ensured that benefits due today will be paid as normal.

Jobseekers allowance signing has been excused today.


Other services impacted include restricted court and tribunal services, potential reduced services at Land and Property Services offices, the General Register Office NI, and the DAERA direct office.

Members of the five teaching unions – INTO, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU and UTU – will be on the pickets.

The Teachers’ Negotiating Council management side has warned that the impact of the action from large numbers of staff, both teaching and non-teaching, will result in “severe disruption” and “potential widespread school closures” impacting the “vast majority” of students.

The organisation has reiterated a call for critical investment in education, despite present budget challenges.