Irish Rail strike still on horizon despite pay deal result
Published 24/05/2014 | 02:30
THE threat of industrial action looms at Irish Rail despite three unions backing a compromise deal to cut pay by 1.7pc.
A union representing 400 staff at the semi-state company, the TEEU, and UNITE's craft worker division have voted in favour of the plan in ballot results released yesterday.
The Transport Salaried Staff's Association has already backed the plan – put forward by the Labour Court – by a 72pc margin.
Members of the TEEU, including signalling maintenance staff and fitters, voted by 68pc in favour of the court compromise, which shortens the length the temporary pay cut would last.
A majority of UNITE's 40 engineer members also voted in favour of the plan, but most of its 90 craft worker members rejected it in a separate ballot.
However, over 1,900 members of the largest union at the company – SIPTU – are balloting on action after rejecting the plan by a tight margin of 51pc to 49pc earlier this week.
The prospect of strikes may deepen next week if the second largest union at Irish Rail, the National Rail and Busworkers Union, votes against the plan.
Around 10,000 passengers a day would be affected in the event of an all-out strike.
Most staff would take a pay cut of 1.7pc under the cost-cutting programme, but the pay cuts increase by up to 6.1pc for those on higher salaries.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party faces a battle with its ally, SIPTU, over a government plan to privatise 10pc of bus routes.
In a message to members, the union said it tried to influence Labour to halt the tendering of all routes but the final proposal "remains 10pc too much".
A number of SIPTU members are candidates for Labour in the local elections, while its general president Jack O'Connor has endorsed its candidate Emer Costello for Europe.
In a statement that could be seen as a veiled warning of industrial action, it says it will "have to consider all and any options to protect the employment of our members".
The National Transport Authority is putting 10pc of Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann routes and 100pc of Waterford city services out to tender, with new operators starting in 2016.
The National Bus and Railworkers Union has told members the broader trade union movement may not be in a position to publicly question or even attack the policy being adopted "by their direct representatives in government, particularly close to an election".