SDLP Infrastructure Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has said the important role paid by public transport staff must be recognised with fair pay and working conditions.
He was speaking as Translink staff and school support staff commenced industrial action on Friday.
Mr Durkan said that staff had been forced into the move after their concerns were ignored.
Foyle MLA Mr Durkan said:
“I have been on the picket lines today and I know that Translink staff would rather be doing their jobs than standing in the freezing cold. They recognise the impact their decision has had on the public, but the reality is that they feel they have no other choice after being ignored in their attempts to secure fair pay and working conditions. They are not asking for the earth and I think today shows clearly the important role that these workers play in our society.
“I sympathise with the people across the North who have faced incredible difficulties today getting to school, work or hospital appointments and the disruption and frustration that has caused for many. In recent months we have seen increasing industrial action across our public sector which has led to a variety of challenges, but it’s important to remember that the blame for this situation lies with Stormont Executives and British governments who have failed to address the long-term concerns of staff.
“Our public transport network is something we cannot afford to take for granted, especially as we work to encourage more people to move away from over-reliance on private vehicles to tackle the climate crisis. In recent years we have seen huge investment in our public transport fleet which is to be welcomed, what we need to see now is a similar investment in the staff who literally keep the show on the road.”