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Wednesday 23 May 2018

Average wage at Irish Rail would hit €61,000 if workers win pay rise

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Anne-Marie Walsh

Irish Rail workers who are set to bring services to a standstill on Wednesday will end up with an average wage of almost €61,000 if they get the pay rise they are demanding.

The average salary for the workforce of 3,800 staff now stands at €54,647, according to figures supplied by the commercial semi-state company.

If they get the pay rise they want, worth 3.75pc a year for three years, this means their average salary will increase by €6,148 to €60,795.

Drivers, whose pay starts at €43,716 and rises to €55,238 in increments after 10 years, would see their pay rise to more than €61,000, while mid-ranking executives and station managers' wages would reach more than €70,000. The increases sought by employees in all grades would cost just under €43m. Irish Rail claims this would bring it to the brink of insolvency.

Up to 155,000 passengers a day will be hit when services grind to a halt on Wednesday, including 70,000 Dart passengers, 45,000 on Commuter services and 40,000 on InterCity routes.

Workers want the same pay rise that was given to Luas and Dublin Bus drivers following weeks of crippling strikes.

One of the strike dates is the day of the World Cup play-off game against Denmark. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
One of the strike dates is the day of the World Cup play-off game against Denmark. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Talks on the pay claim broke down at the Workplace Relations Commission earlier this month when the company refused to budge from an offer of 1.75pc a year. However, union sources claimed that a 2.5pc pay hike was on the table but was pulled at the 11th hour.

The company said it only tabled a 1.75pc offer with strings attached, which included the redeployment of "surplus" staff.

It is understood unions would accept a separate 1.15pc pay rise recommended by the Labour Court to reward drivers for past productivity could be included in a settlement.

Irish Rail has warned that it is in a precarious financial position and insolvency is looming if it makes further losses.

Dermot O'Leary, general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union, said: "It doesn't take a mathematical genius to calculate that a percentile increase to any accumulative figure will increase the average which previously applied.

"However, if there is a genuine concern among the senior management team at Irish Rail that the average will increase, then it is very much within their gift to, at least in part, reduce the impact of increasing the average by volunteering to step away from receiving any benefit from any resultant pay increase achieved by the trade unions."

A Rail Review by the National Transport Authority and Irish Rail last year said it was underfunded by more than €100m a year.

It sets out options to address this, including line closures, which are being considered by the Government and National Transport Authority (NTA).

However, a spokesperson for Irish Rail said the funding was required to keep infrastructure and services at a "steady state" level, and was not being sought to resolve industrial relations issues.

Last week, Irish Rail's chairperson designate Frank Allen said he was confident the Department of Transport understood the need for the extra funding, but he was waiting for confirmation.

Unions claim their members are being asked to subsidise the company by being denied the pay rise since the NTA has accepted it is under resourced.

Irish Rail workers start five days of strike action on Wednesday. The strike dates are November 1, 7, 14, 23 and December 8.

Irish Independent

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