Page last updated at 18:45 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

250,000 Irish workers go on strike

Up to 250,000 people in the Republic are on strike

Up to a quarter of a million public sector workers have taken part in a national strike in the Republic of Ireland.

Civil servants, some medical staff and teachers are protesting at government plans to cut the public sector pay bill by 1.3bn euros next year.

They say they cannot take any more cuts in their wages after an emergency budget earlier this year.

Almost all public offices and schools were closed.

Hospital appointments for up to 16,000 patients were cancelled.

Thousands of people also faced delays in social security payments.

Irish police have said that no speeding fines will be issued because of the strike.

Trade unions said the government had refused to engage with them on ways of cutting the state pay and pensions bill by 1.3bn euros without cutting pay, pensions or services.

They said the government had forced the action by failing to negotiate a fair alternative to plans for a second huge pay cut this year.

However, a number of unions have deferred strike action in areas affected by recent floods.

The strike affected a wide range of the public sector:

  • A majority of civil service employees took part;
  • A limited customs service is running at ports and airports;
  • Prison officers have been striking for an hour at different times - prisoners are being locked in their cells during the action;
  • Emergency cover being provided by fire and water services;
  • Most local authorities staff are on strike but staff at flood-hit areas are still working;
  • Hospital staffing is at Christmas Day levels - only "genuine emergency" cases advised to show up at A&E departments, hospital appointments are being deferred and non-emergency procedures postponed, although strike exemptions were granted to key areas including palliative and intensive care;
  • Police are forbidden by law to strike but members of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors have been instructed not to make themselves available for overtime; and,
  • More than 50,000 teachers are on strike.

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