Further pain for public as more wildcat strikes loom
Commuters may face added chaos tomorrow as bitter pay dispute looks set to escalate
Striking bus and rail workers have been criticised for using the sick and elderly as pawns during wildcat strike action.
A nursing home in Dublin was left without one third of its staff last Friday morning as workers in the capital struggled to make their way through the city during the morning's peak rush hour.
Staff at Dublin Bus and Irish Rail ramped up industrial action across the entire transport network and brought the country to a standstill by refusing to cross picket lines at stations and garages. The Bus Eireann dispute will now enter a tenth day of strike action today with no end in sight.
Unions say they are prepared to engage in a long-running dispute. One source said unions are prepared to subsidise the cost of industrial action for 10 to 12 weeks as drivers go without pay while manning pickets.
Further wildcat action has not been ruled out but union sources say they expect moves to be made to resolve the dispute this week.
"If wildcat strikes are being called after just eight days, imagine what will happen after another eight days."
While Siptu claimed none of its members were involved in the wildcat action, the union said it could not rule out similar action this week.
Irish Patients Association director Stephen McMahon criticised the strike action.
Many patients were forced to cancel medical procedures and appointments because they could not make alternative travel arrangements.
"What happened last Friday was scandalous," Mr McMahon said.
"There are patients in rural Ireland depending on public transport with no other means of access, no family support, so they missed their appointments. Many of these patients have waited a long time to get to the point where they are going to get their treatment, or indeed to get their appointment. The patients should not be used as pawns by any party in an industrial dispute."
He added that nursing homes were severely affected because staff were unable to get to work on time and provide vital morning support services for clients.
One third of staff at one nursing home were more than three hours late for work last Friday morning because of the strike. "That creates all sorts of issues for nursing homes in terms of security, providing meals, changing people, and issues with incontinence".