Friday 22 September 2017

Strike threat at Irish Rail if staff don't get pay rises

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Ian Begley

Unions at Irish Rail are threatening an all-out strike this autumn if the company does not increase staff pay.

Iarnród Éireann staff are seeking flat pay rises, similar to increases seen elsewhere in the transport sector.

However, the company maintains that it is at risk of insolvency, with debts of €160m and losses forecast at €6m by the end of 2017.

On the first day of a five-week period of negotiations at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Siptu assistant industrial organiser Paul Cullen said staff haven't received a pay increase in 10 years.

"We're here today to try to resolve this issue of achieving a flat-rate pay increase [between 2.75pc and 3pc per year] for our members. We feel that this is possible given the current financial situation within the company.

"With the increase in passenger numbers and revenue, we're now back to 2009 levels. Therefore, we feel that this flat pay increase is a reasonable request."

Mr Cullen added that if talks fail, unions would seek a mandate for industrial action.

"We'll make every effort to ensure that these talks don't fail, but nevertheless it requires both parties' co-operation," he said.

"If they do fail, we will consult our membership and seek a mandate from our membership."

Ciaran Masterson, director of human resources at Iarnród Éireann, said the company was prepared to review its efficiencies and savings. He believes an all-out strike would damage customer confidence and said the company remains under threat of insolvency.

"We've got to deal with the simple fact that as an organisation we are under threat of insolvency," he said.

It recently emerged that Irish Rail will look for more funding from the taxpayer - even if four of its most costly subsidised routes are axed.

The semi-State company may also seek "additional Exchequer funding" and increased payments from the Free Travel Scheme.

Irish Independent

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