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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Irish Rail boss to return from holiday early to deal with rail strike

Niall O'Connor and Brian O'Reilly

Published 21/08/2014 | 15:35

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Irish Rail's CEO David Franks
Irish Rail's CEO David Franks

The head of Irish Rail will return early from holiday to deal with a rail strike set to begin this weekend.

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David Franks is currently in Mauritius, and was not due to return until Monday.

However this afternoon it has been revealed that Mr Franks will now return early to deal with the crisis.

Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny told Independent.ie this afternoon that Mr Franks had remained in constant contact with officials here while abroad.

"Throughout the time in which Chief Executive David Franks has been abroad, he has remained in constant contact and has been leading the management of the industrial relations issues we are facing. 

"This has included conference calls with the senior management team up to and including this morning, with a further conference call planned with the wider management group tomorrow, as well as ongoing phone and email contact."

He confirmed that Mr Franks, who earns a salary of €211,000, will now return earlier than planned.

"With NBRU and SIPTU intent on progressing with this industrial action - despite the effect on our customers, on the company’s finances, and on the security of employment of the workforce – Mr Franks has brought his travel arrangements home to Ireland forward, and will travel on Saturday to continue to lead the management of the situation from head office from Sunday morning."

Meanwhile Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe, who is himself on holidays in Kerry, has welcomed Mr Franks’s decision to cut short his holiday.

But the Fine Gael TD risked further antagonising unions after he accused workers of taking action that "puts jobs at risk" at Irish Rail.

“The action being taken by SIPTU and NBRU members will result in massive disruption on a number of fronts; it will cause considerable inconvenience to rail users, it puts jobs at risk at Irish Rail, and it will add to the further deterioration of the company’s financial situation,” he said in a statement.

“There can be no winners if this strike action goes ahead. It will contribute nothing to the company’s prospects or to furthering its role in serving the public. I am appealing to the Unions involved to call off the actions proposed, even at this late stage, in the interest of the future viability of Irish Rail.”

The first strikes are set to hit this Sunday and Monday, with more stoppages are planned for September 7, the day of the All-Ireland hurling final, and on Monday, September 8.

There will also be a stoppage on September 21 when the Gaelic football decider takes place.

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