Saturday 16 December 2017

Irish Rail passengers may face travel woe this summer as NBRU threatens industrial action

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Industry Correspondent

IRISH Rail passengers may face the threat of widespread travel chaos during the summer and autumn after the company warned it could not afford pay rises.

The National Bus and Railworkers Union issued the threat of industrial action after Irish Rail said it would be "trading recklessly" if it accepted union claims for wage hikes of at least 3.75pc a year.

Irish Rail predicted it will end up just €2m short of insolvency this year.

It said its financial position is worse than Bus Éireann's and it will lose €6m this year and will shoulder a deficit of €159m, in a submission to the Labour Court.

General Secretary of the NBRU Dermot O'Leary accused Irish Rail and the government of playing Russian roulette with public transport.

He said they were running the risk of widespread travel chaos during the summer and autumn.

Mr O'Leary said successive governments have cut vital state funding by over 39pc since 2008.

He said passenger numbers are back at Celtic Tiger levels, there have been significant increases in revenue, €25m payroll cuts and a 19pc cut in staffing.

The union leader said this was in direct contradiction with the company's "so-called" insolvency threat to workers seeking a pay rise.

"What we are actually witnessing here is a systematic attack on state-owned public transport companies and workers," he said.

"The recent Bus Éireann dispute clearly demonstrated that an agenda exists within government circles to drag the CIÉ companies and their workforce through a series of industrial disputes in order to feed a pro-privatisation agenda.

"It is long since passed time that those who provide support for this government cried halt to this Russian roulette transport policy, before we are forced into a summer and autumn of chaos across our railways."

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