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Wednesday 1 October 2014

100,000 face disruption as rail action set to escalate

Sam Griffin

Published 25/08/2014 | 02:30

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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
Members of the National Bus And Rail Union outside Heuston Station
An empty Heuston Station in Dublin, during the Irish Rail strike.

RAIL workers have threatened to escalate their industrial action and could go on an 'all-out strike' if Irish Rail does not reverse its controversial pay cuts.

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Strike action by the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) yesterday caused travel chaos for some 60,000 people, including thousands of GAA fans from Kerry and Mayo whose travels plans to see their sides in action in Croke Park were thrown into disarray.

Another 100,000 passengers are expected to be affected by today's action, which will see Siptu workers at the semi-state also take to the picket lines.

Further actions by the unions are set for September 7 and 8 as well as September 21 to coincide with the All-Ireland football and hurling finals, but the unions have now said the actions will be further escalated if the cuts remain in place by late September.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary told the Irish Independent an all-out strike action could be considered.

"We are having a review on September 23 and as far as the National Bus and Rail Union is concerned, we have a mandate for industrial action including all-out strike. If the company persists with the application of non-agreed pay cuts, we will look at that mandate again," he warned last night.

The dispute revolves around pay cuts, imposed by management at the semi-state, of between 1.6pc for those earning €56,000 and 6.1pc to workers on over €100,000 lasting for 28 months.

Insolvent

The strike is set to cost Irish Rail around €1.3m in customer revenues and public service payments which management say will only add to the company's financial woes.

A spokesperson yesterday confirmed the company faces insolvency next year and will consider a number of legal options including examinership.

"What the trade unions need to be doing is withdrawing the next three days of action, not threatening to escalate it further," Barry Kenny said.

"They are criticising reductions in public service payments but the industrial action is directly causing us to l ose further public service payments, so the trade union leadership need to move this in a direction where they reducing industrial action."

He added that the company was willing to talk with the striking unions.

However Mr O'Leary said the actions of Irish Rail CEO David Franks, who was forced to cut short his holiday in Mauritius after news surfaced that he would be away for the strike, showed Irish Rail 'had no intention of engaging with anybody'.

The dispute will cost Dublin city more than €25m in lost revenue according to DublinTown, a representative body for over 2,500 firms, who have called for an end to the impasse.

"We in DublinTown urge all parties to this dispute to consider the passengers who rely on the rail service and to think laterally as to how the current difficulties can be best resolved," CEO Richard Guiney said.

strik strike wWe are having a review on the 23rd September and as far as the National Bus and Rail Union is concerned, we have a mandate for industrial action including all-out srike. If the company persist with the application of they're not agreed pay cuts, we will look at that mandate again.

If it gets to the stage where the cuts remain in place then obviously we will give serious consideration to an all out-strike.

We have a mandate for all-out strike and there are other areas that we can look at as well.

Irish Independent

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