Saturday 25 March 2017

Relief for commuters as Irish Rail union suspends ballot for strike action

Irish Rail has accused unions of blocking the training of nine new DART drivers.
Irish Rail has accused unions of blocking the training of nine new DART drivers.

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

IRISH Rail passengers will be relieved as unions at the company put a ballot for industrial action on hold.

The NBRU and SIPTU have agreed to suspend voting to attend three days of talks at the Workplace Relations Commission tomorrow.

But they warned that they will be under pressure from members to resolve their dispute with the company on a range of issues through industrial action if agreement is not reached.

Talks broke down earlier this month after Irish Rail accused unions of taking part in unofficial industrial action and blocking the training of nine DART drivers.

The talks will address issues including the mentoring of new drivers, a shorter working week, and workers’ productivity.

Unions had warned that the industrial action could mean strikes or a work-to-rule.

SIPTU instructed members the work-to-rule could include an overtime ban, non cooperation on roster changes, and a refusal to carry out senior roles or work in depots other than their own.

It also meant they would not do any new work and refuse to swap rest days.

In a joint statement, NBRU General Secretary, Dermot O'Leary, and SIPTU Assistant Divisional Organiser, Paul Cullen, said they agreed to suspend the ballot following a request from the WRC to attend intensive talks.

"The Labour Court had previously recommended that an independent investigation should be undertaken in relation to our members legitimate claims for a reduction in the working week and a material recognition of past productivity," they said.

"All sides have agreed that the contentious issue of driver training will also be on the agenda."

They said this report will form the basis for discussions.

The union leaders said it is "incumbent" on all sides to contribute to a resolution to the "long drawn out saga of overdue improvements" to rail and DART drivers' terms and conditions.

"Failure to reach agreement will inevitably lead to both unions coming under pressure to resolve the issues through the medium of industrial action," they added.

Meanwhile, the threat of strikes at Dublin Bus still loom as members of the two unions have voted in favour of industrial action in pursuit of a 15pc pay rise.

SIPTU is set to announce the result of its ballot of seven grades of staff tomorrow. Members of the NBRU have already voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.

The unions have threatened action up to an all-out strike or 24 or 48 hour work stoppages.

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