Fresh hopes for end to rail strike action as negotiations continue in bitter dispute
There are fresh hopes for an end to the bitter Irish Rail dispute, as negotiations between the unions and the company continued late into the night.
Representatives of the debt- laden Irish Rail are due to resume discussions with union representatives in the Labour Relation Commission today, as hopes rose for a positive breakthrough from the "exploratory talks" on the current pay-cut dispute.
After the talks which concluded around 11pm last night, National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) general secretary Dermot O'Leary told the Irish Independent: "We spent a long time today going through all the issues in terms of our view of the row."
He said the commission would consider all the matters they raised and talks would resume today at 10.30am.
An Irish Rail spokesperson said there had been "some progress" and that there was now a basis for the discussions when they reconvened this morning.
However, the spokesperson said the notice of the second wave of strike action remains in place for this Sunday and Monday. "The industrial action is still in place for the weekend. But the fact that (the talks are) continuing means that there is still some chance of preventing that," he added.
"It's a difficult process. Obviously, there a range of issues to be addressed, but it is constructive and we obviously hope that we can avert the action."
A source close to the negotiations said that positive talks were being held between all relevant parties, and it is hoped that a solution to the long-running dispute would be reached soon.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday said that he will not be proposing any more cuts to the government subvention to Irish Rail next year.
Speaking at the signing of the new Luas operating contract with Transdev, Mr Donohoe said 60pc of the total costs of Irish Rail were in relation to payroll. "That is why achieving these savings are a vital contribution to the future of Irish Rail," Mr Donohoe added.
Exploratory talks at the LRC between the unions and rail chiefs reconvened yesterday, ahead of the second bout of strike action.
The strike action expected to take place this Sunday and Monday will cause chaos for the 80,000 GAA fans set to descend upon the capital for the All-Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipperary.