Wednesday 21 February 2018

Irish Rail passengers facing cancellations as unions plan work-to-rule action

Irish Rail
Irish Rail

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

IRISH Rail passengers may face train cancellations as unions plan a work-to-rule after accusing the company of a “disgraceful two-fingered approach” to staff.

The NBRU and SIPTU will today outline a campaign of non-cooperation with management to staff, which they will ballot on in the coming days.

It comes after talks broke down with management yesterday on a range of issues, including a shorter working week and productivity.

The Irish Independent has learned that drivers will refuse to work on ‘rest days’ to cover for staff on holiday.

They will also refuse to ‘act up’ by taking on the work of higher grades, including inspectors and depot controllers, or step in to provide cover in depots other than their own.

In a notice issued to shop stewards today, the NBRU and SIPTU say it is now “abundantly clear” to them that Irish Rail is “determined to block and frustrate drivers” as they seek long overdue improvements to their terms and conditions.

“As a result of this disgraceful two fingered approach to its own staff both unions are left with no choice but to ballot you (loco/Dart drivers) for a mandate for industrial action,” said the message from the General Secretary of the NBRU, Dermot O’Leary, and SIPTU Assistant Organiser, Paul Cullen.

The notice accused the company of blankly refusing to engage in talks, despite committing to do so on July 15.

It says the reason offered by the company for this “appalling u-turn” is mentoring drivers.

Irish Rail has accused the unions of blocking the training of nine Dart drivers.

The letter said as recently as June 25, the company had accepted this training was “voluntarist in nature”.

“The trade unions have long accepted that surety with regards to driver training would form part of an overall agreement, along with a reduction in the working week, material recognition for past productivity and significant improvements to drivers’ terms and conditions,” it says.

“However, this can only be achieved as part of a process which includes all agenda items.” It says the company has effectively changed the goalposts.

The ballot will begin next Tuesday and will end on August 16.

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