Thousands strike in North

Tens of thousands of public sector workers in Northern Ireland held a 24- hour strike on Wednesday of last week.

According to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, 100,000 workers took part in the strike opposing changes to their pensions.

A mass rally was held outside Belfast City Hall while trade unionists also picketed hundreds of civil service buildings.

Schools and transport were badly affected across the North, while hospitals cancelled non-critical procedures.

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Peter Bunting of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions told a rally at Belfast City Hall that public sector workers should be commended.

"The real extremists in our society are those who evade and avoid tax, those who have gambled billions with other peoples' money to sate their greed, and those politicians who have decreed that ordinary people, private sector workers, public sector workers and the most vulnerable of all, the

unemployed, the sick, women and children, and senior citizens, will pay for the criminal conduct of the pampered elite," Bunting said.

"Rather than complain about today, the business community should consider the long term," he said.

"The loss of one day's pay for going on strike is worth it, because if the Tories (Conservatives) get their way, public sector workers will have one day's pay docked, every single month, forever, to pay off the bankers' debt."

Jimmy Kelly, regional organizer of the Unite union, said: "We have been brought to a situation where our members across health, education, local government, transport are really declaring that enough is enough.

"This time next year it will be too late trying to put things back together again."