Irish Rail says staff demands for 25pc pay hikes are 'unrealistic'
IRISH Rail have hit out at union calls for pay increases of up to 25pc, saying the demands are "not grounded in reality".
In a letter penned to the rail company on behalf of 650 Irish Rail staff - including 300 drivers - the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) have asked for pay increases in line with those proposed for Luas drivers.
The NBRU said that drivers would not co-operate on plans for more frequent Darts without pay talks. A new Dart schedule that would see trains run every 10 minutes is due to come into effect on April 10.
Staff are also seeking a reinstatement of 6pc that was cut from their pay packet in 2014 under a 24-month deal that is due to expire in October.
The additional increase is in line with what the union has said were now "industry norms", given the pay increase of between 8pc and 19pc proposed for Luas staff. However, a spokesman for Irish Rail has dismissed the demands as unrealistic.
"Iarnrod Eireann remains in a very difficult financial position with annual losses, and an accumulated deficit of €135m and is only paying wages and bills through loans," he said.
"What happens in another company [Luas] is of no relevance. We have an agreement for a temporary pay reduction which concludes in October. We will not do anything which brings the threat of insolvency back, as this would put our customers' services and our employees' job security at risk.
"That agreement is one that all unions including NBRU signed up to. The NBRU purport to understand our financial position so the comments of the Union are not grounded in reality," he added.
Dermot O'Leary general secretary of the NBRU, said the notion that rail staff would have to wait for the company to begin making money was "quite ridiculous".
"There has been a lot of unrest in Irish Rail in the last 12 months … you had the main Government party talking about keeping the recovery going and workers haven't experienced that recovery."
Meanwhile, Dublin Bus drivers are also seeking a new pay deal in line with the tram drivers and are due to meet with the company next Wednesday in the Labour Court.