Commuter misery as bus, rail and Luas workers prepare for more strikes
Published 24/10/2015 | 02:30
Hundreds of thousands of commuters face further transport chaos as the country's bus and Luas drivers gear up for more strike action this winter.
Despite the improving economy, tensions over pay and conditions are sweeping through the transport sector.
Thousands of workers could down tools in what unions leaders are calling a "winter of discontent".
A further wave of strike action by the country's rail workers is set to go ahead on Friday week. And union leaders are considering escalating their strike plans beyond November 6, when a stoppage between 6am to 9am is planned. Yesterday, all Intercity, DART and commuter services were brought to a standstill for three hours in a move that inconvenienced 40,000 passengers.
The strike action took place after talks at the Workplace Relations Commission broke down. There will be further rail disruption this weekend as engineering works take place.
No DART service will operate between Pearse and Howth/Malahide. Bus transfers will be needed for part of the Drogheda/Dundalk commuter service and the Belfast Enterprise route. Full details are available at the Irish Rail website.
The Irish Independent has also learned that a full day of strike action is now being considered, as union figures warn of a full-scale "erosion" of trust with Irish Rail.
The Irish Rail row has stemmed from a dispute over what the two unions involved claim is the company's failure to reward "past productivity".
However, Irish Rail has insisted the offer of a 7.9pc increase in earnings between February 2016 and January 2018 is more than reasonable.
Dermot O'Leary, General Secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU), said the level of trust between workers and the company is at its lowest point in 20 years.
"Some of the things we have seen at the discussions can only be described as Thatcherite".
Mr O'Leary confirmed that a row over pay at both Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann means that strike action by bus workers cannot be ruled out.
"Shakespeare's phrase 'Now is the winter of discontent' is perfectly suitable in relation to what is going on in these companies," he added.
Luas workers are edging towards strike action, also as a result of a row over pay.
Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny said the strike action yesterday would cost the company up to €500,000.
"Our proposals are concrete. We do not want further disruptions and we remain open to re-engaging with trade unions."
Mr Kenny claimed that the union demands include pension top-ups and a reduction in the working week and that these are not feasible.
The Government is currently facing the prospect of industrial action across several sectors -despite the recent Budget.
The INMO is on a work-to-rule in the emergency department of St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin in protest at overcrowding and lack of staff.
Teaching unions the ASTI and TUI have rejected the Lansdowne Road pay agreement.