Wednesday 22 November 2017

CIE bosses still on bumper pay despite €36m bailout

There are 88 senior staff in the financially troubled state transport company, CIE, in receipt of salaries in excess of €100,000, new documents obtained by the Sunday Independent reveal.

The high pay enjoyed by the coterie of senior staff in CIE and its subsidiary companies, Dublin Bus, Irish Rail and Bus Eireann, comes despite the taxpayer being forced to bail out the company to the tune of €36m last year as well as being hit with fare increases.

The revelations will prove difficult for Transport Minister Leo Varadkar who approved the bailout, despite accusations of poor management at CIE from the private sector.

Responding to the figures, Mr Varadkar told the Sunday Independent yesterday that payroll costs will have to be reduced "if the company is to survive".

The documents, compiled by Tom O'Mahony, Secretary General at Mr Varadkar's Department of Transport, for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), reveal that the three chief executives of the struggling company, beset by falling passenger numbers and increased fuel costs in recent years, are all paid more than senior cabinet ministers.

According to the figures, David Franks, CEO of Irish Rail, is being paid €225,000, which is more than Taoiseach Enda Kenny's salary of €200,000, while Paddy Doherty of Dublin Bus and Martin Nolan of Bus Eireann are each paid €189,000, which is more than the €184,405 paid to Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and the €169,275 paid to other ministers, including Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.

The documents reveal that in total there are 46 people in Irish Rail being paid more than €100,000, while there are 20 in CIE head office enjoying six-figure salaries.

Meanwhile, the documents obtained also show there are 13 people in Bus Eireann and nine in Dublin Bus being paid more than €100,000.

Mr O'Mahony also sought to clarify details about the purchasing of 21 carriages which have been surplus to requirement, despite costing €44m. It emerged at a recent meeting of the PAC, that despite the surplus, Irish Rail has no intention of selling the carriages on.

He said that of the 21 carriages, in fact nine of those surplus 21 were "always planned as back-ups".

PAC chairman John McGuinness said the unused carriages were a "massive waste of taxpayers' money".

"Then you increase the fares instead of saying there will be no fare increases until you get your house in order," Mr McGuinness said.

"I just can't fathom why you can't do that to put a stop to the carry-on that is going on in CIE. A company in the private sector would be bust if they did that."

CIE was given a €36m bailout by the Government last year, with a massive €30m of this going to Irish Rail and €5.33m given to Dublin Bus.

The documents also reveal that gardai are now investigating the circumstances around the "illegal discarding of Irish Rail commercial freight carriages."

Mr O'Mahony wrote that last November, an "unsuccessful attempt was made to remove disused wagons and steel keg pallets from Irish Rail's Dundalk freight yard".

He explained that a "contractor who had previously undertaken legitimate scrapping work for Irish Rail engaged a second sub-contractor to scrap and dispose of these wagons. This was not contracted by Irish Rail".

Irish Rail spotted this and stopped the removal of the scrap. "The matter has been referred by Irish Rail to the gardai in Dundalk," he added.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Varadkar said: "I totally accept that payroll costs across CIE will have to be reduced if the company is to survive in its current form. All CEOs in CIE have already had significant pay cuts of 10pc in line with Government policy and do not take bonuses.

"Any CEO appointed in the last few years has started on a significantly lower salary than their predecessor. The newly appointed ceo of Irish Rail is on a lower salary then their predecessor. Bus Eireann executive staff will shortly ballot on a longer working week with no extra pay, as recommended by the labour court."

The bailout of CIE by Mr Varadkar was severely criticised by private coach and bus operators association, the Coach Tourism & Transport Council (CTTC).

Irish Independent

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