Deal on pay cuts must be found 'in a week' to avoid rail worker action
Industrial action looms at Irish Rail if unions and management fail to broker a deal on pay cuts at make-or-break talks within a week, writes Anne-Marie Walsh.
Chief Executive David Franks and his managers yesterday said they would take an immediate pay cut of 6.1pc, which applies to salaries over €100,000, as a "statement of commitment" to the company's future.
The pay cut will reduce Mr Franks' €225,000 salary by €13,725. But the company has now warned it will force staff to take pay cuts ranging from 1.7pc to 6.1pc if there is no agreement at the discussions in the seven-day deadline.
And any attempt to impose the pay cuts will trigger industrial action, meaning potential chaos for passengers.
The largest union at the company, Siptu, has balloted to take industrial action if management imposes the wage reduction.
The second-largest union, the Nbru, which also rejected the pay cuts, has not balloted but has threatened "a reaction to such provocation".
Thousands of passengers could face disruption if industrial action goes ahead as over 100,000 passengers travel on the network every day.
Siptu and the Nbru rejected the pay cuts after balloting on a Labour Court compromise proposal.
The compromise eased the impact of the pay cuts, which are temporary, by shortening the length of time they would last from three years to two years and four months.
Siptu members rejected the pay cuts by a tight margin of 51pc to 49pc and did not support strike action. But they backed industrial action, which could take the form of a work-to-rule.
In an email to staff, Mr Franks warned "there is nowhere else to turn".
"We have exhausted the avenues provided for under the industrial relations machinery of the State over the past 19 months, with extensive engagements under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court," he said.
However, he said he believed there was a willingness on all sides "to constructively engage".
"I earnestly hope that this will allow us to progress and address together the other challenges facing our company," he added.