Tuesday 17 October 2017

100,000 commuters affected by rail strikes today

'The buses are packed, the bus stops are packed, and the roads are busy'

Ireland's railways have ground to a halt for a second day in a row, crippling the country's transport network and leaving 100,000 passengers taking to cars and buses.

After a long-running row over pay cuts to save Irish Rail another €17 million on top of years of budget cuts, union members followed through with a two-day stoppage.

An empty Heuston Station in Dublin, during the Irish Rail strike.
An empty Heuston Station in Dublin, during the Irish Rail strike.

No talks are planned to attempt to break the deadlock after management implemented the divisive reductions in salaries yesterday.

AA Roadwatch noted a marked increase in traffic on commuter routes with the Naas Road, N4 from Lucan and Swords Road into Dublin city experiencing greater than normal volumes.

All Intercity, DART and commuter services were cancelled.

In Dublin this morning, commuters told independent.ie that many were forced to walk long distances and many had to leave their homes earlier to get to work on time.

Cathal Meaghar from Dublin said he travelled into the city centre from Raheny via Dublin Bus. He said queues had formed at bus stops along the route, and many buses were full to capacity and could not stop for more passengers.

"It was pretty much standing room only on the bus all the way.

"The bus stops were packed as well so I'm just glad we got up really early."

Michelle Doran from Wexford said the row over pay cuts in Iarnrod Eireann should have been resolved before now.;

Irish rail chief executive David Franks at an emergency meeting at Irish Rail offices on Amiens Street yesterday
Irish rail chief executive David Franks at an emergency meeting at Irish Rail offices on Amiens Street yesterday

"You feel a bit angry that it's going on for two years and the people making their way to work are the ones affected. But you do have sumpathy [for Iarnrod Eireann's workers] as well."

Ciaran Brannigan from Drogheda said he travelled to Dublin city centre this morning on a private bus, and his commute was impacted.

"Trying to get a car parking space in Drogheda was a difficulty [near the bus station]."

"I've a yearly commuter ticket from Drogheda and it's an expensive enough service for this (strike) to happen... From my point of view, it's getting more expensive."

Members of the National Bus And Rail Union outside Heuston Station
Members of the National Bus And Rail Union outside Heuston Station
Heuston Station, Dublin

Meanwhile, Wayne Talbot from Dublin said his commute was affected only slightly.

"I was expecting bad traffic so I got up a bit earlier than I usually would."

"Staff has reduced by over 2,000 a lot of the stuaff have taken a lot more duties."

"We feel it's time the government properly funded this railway."

Yesterday, one of the busiest sporting days of the year with Kerry playing Mayo in the All-Ireland football semi-final, about 60,000 people were left with no access to trains.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) kicked off the strike with a two-day walkout, with plans to follow up with two 24-hour work stoppages on September 7 and September 21.

The union is planning to review its strategy on September 23 and an all-out strike is one of the options open to workers.

Siptu, whose railway members are part of the largest trade union in Ireland, is striking today in a one-day stoppage.

Pickets were placed at a number of train stations.

Irish Rail has said it will run out of money in 2015 if it does not cut wages this year. The strike will cost the company 1.3 million euro (£1.03 million).

Earlier this month, David Franks, Irish Rail's chief executive, warned of potential bankruptcy if urgent action was not taken to cut costs.

Siptu claim costs have been cut by 73 million euro (£58 million) over the last four years.

Pay cuts as part of a multi-million euro cost-cutting survival strategy have been described as unavoidable by the Labour Court if the operator is to remain in business.

Pay accounted for more than half of spending at Irish Rail, he said.

The company confirmed that senior management had taken a salary cut of 6.1%.

They want workers to take cuts of between 1.7% for those earning 56,000 euro (£44,000) or less - three-quarters of the workforce - up to just over 6% for employees on 100,000 euro (£79,000) or more.

Three other unions accepted the proposals but Siptu and the NBRU have rejected them.

The pay cuts introduced yesterday apply for just over two years as part of a plan to save 17 million euro (£13.5 million), according to Irish Rail.

Last year, the company recorded losses of 16.4 million euro (£13 million).

Business chiefs in Dublin said the strike is costing 25-30 million euro (£19.9-23.8 million) a day.

More than 10% of the people who travel into Dublin city each day use the train.

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