Hundreds of public service workers across Newry and Armagh will go on strike this Friday.
The strike, expected to be the biggest since 2011, is aimed at protecting public servants and essential public services.
The SDLP’s Justin McNulty has pledged his support for the planned industrial action.
Mr McNulty met with Unison representatives on Friday and afterwards, he said: “The constant attack on frontline services in Health and Education are having a catastrophic impact locally and the trade unions are right to take a stand to defend our services.
“Time and time again we hear of the Tory Cuts agenda and how people will fight those cuts, but now we have a DUP/SF budget at Stormont which is enforcing those same costs they claim to oppose.
“School Principals face the task of making teachers across Newry and Armagh redundant, with many smaller and rural schools feeling the brunt of those cuts. Nursing and health care staff are constantly seeing vital services in communities being stopped, suspended or scraped all together.
“The crises in our A&E units are impacting on GP services locally. The minor injuries unit in Armagh was temporally closed but has yet to reopen. In fact I am told the unit has been stripped bare so it makes you question if there ever was any intention of reopening the service. The Southern Trust is forging ahead with its plans to withdraw stroke services from Daisy Hill despite strong public and political objections locally.
“Enough is enough. When are our Government Ministers going to stop and listen to the people who use and work in front line services in Education and Health? The people on the ground have used every option open to them to force the ministers to listen and to reverse their plans. The unions have been left with no alternative but to take industrial action and to go on strike.”
“I fully support those involved in Friday’s action and would encourage anyone who values our education and health services to come out and support the unions in the strongest possible way.
Meanwhile, NIPSA will be protesting outside the Health & Social Care Board and Public Health Agency in Belfast tomorrow to highlight the impact of the budget cuts announced in respect of a number of Health Arms Length Bodies who will be experiencing between 3% to 15% cuts in their budgets.
Tommy Brownlee, NIPSA Official stated: “Our members are worried and concerned about the impact these announcements may have on their jobs, job security and the security of their families.
NIPSA has met and will continue to meet the Senior Management Teams in each of the impacted bodies to fully understand the magnitude of these cuts.
The Health Minister is playing fast and loose with our members livelihoods and members today are expressing their anger and concern at these cuts. NIPSA believes these organisations form part of the building blocks of the Health Service and to undermine these functions cause untold harm to patient care.”
Sign Up To Our Newsletter
Sign up to our newsletter for major breaking news stories as they happen – right to your inbox.