Threat of rail strike looms as major unions reject wage cuts
THE threat of a national rail strike – which could affect over 10,000 commuters daily – has sharply increased after another major union rejected proposed wage cuts.
Irish Rail and a large section of its staff are now engaged in an escalating stand-off over a proposed cost-costing plan.
A serious setback to the company's cost-cutting plans was the decision by the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) to vote down a compromise deal on wage reductions recommended by the Labour Court.
Unions have now warned the Government it risks "provoking" serious industrial action. NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary says responsibility for the worsening financial situation at Irish Rail lies squarely with Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.
He said the annual subvention to subsidise the railways has been reduced by 27pc from €149m in 2011 to €117m this year.
"I'm not going to initiate strike action – but if the Government or company side provoke such action – it will be their doing and not mine," he told the Irish Independent.
Last week, SIPTU voted to reject the wage-cut deal. The union, representing over 1,900 staff, is now balloting on industrial and strike action. Most of UNITE's 90 craft worker members have also rejected the plan.
However, the Transport Salaried Staff's Association, representing clerical staff, backed the court proposal. The TEEU and UNITE unions have also voted in favour of the compromise deal.
The original plan was for a temporary wage reduction for three years, but the Labour Court recommended a middle ground solution, lasting two years and four months.