Chaos looms as rail staff due to strike for rush-hour commute
Commuters are expected to face widespread disruption later this month after Irish Rail train drivers voted in favour of industrial action.
The two unions which represent drivers - Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) - confirmed their members voted overwhelmingly in favour of action, which could include short-term stoppages.
It is understood that commuters will be worst hit during morning rush-hour services on Friday, October 23 - the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend. The first stoppage will last for two to three hours.
A senior source indicated that the semi-state company's Dart and commuter services will be affected most.
If the dispute escalates, it is likely that stoppages will affect more train services around the country on a second day of action.
The NBRU confirmed yesterday that 95pc of its members balloted had voted in favour of industrial action, while 92pc of Siptu's train drivers voted in favour of participating in action.
This ballot came after talks in the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), regarding past productivity issues, collapsed last month.
The NBRU claimed the talks broke down as "the company was not willing to engage on the past productivity element" from a 2014 LRC agreement.
Siptu also accused Irish Rail of "reneging on a commitment to reward past productivity increases".
Train drivers say that despite being hit by pay cuts, they are facing demands for increased productivity.
The two unions are set to meet on Thursday to discuss what form of industrial action they will take.
"The LRC agreement is quite clear with regard to discussing past productivity. We have never encountered a situation where the company have simply said they are not going to honour our agreement and are unwilling to engage," Dermot O'Leary, general secretary of the NBRU, said.
Paul Cullen, a Siptu organiser, added: "Our members still hope that management will step back from the brink and honour the terms of this agreement to negotiate on past productivity produced by drivers. Failure to do so will inevitably lead to the disruption of services provided by Irish Rail."
Irish Rail said the ballot for industrial action in this context was "unnecessary" and said any course of action would "renew the threat to the future viability of Irish Rail, job security and the services we provide to our customers, in a situation where we continue to incur losses in excess of €1 million per month".
"Irish Rail remains available to engage with drivers' representatives to discuss productivity," a spokesman added.
A spokesperson for Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has said that he will not intervene in the dispute as it is "a matter for Irish Rail to deal directly with the trade unions on the outcome of the ballot and the issues involved".