Saturday 21 April 2018

Irish Rail staff consider strike action as unions 'seeking pay increases of 25pc'

Irish Rail
Irish Rail

David Kearns

Irish Rail workers are to consider strike action as the unions accuse management at Iarnród Éireann of refusing to take pay claims seriously.

SIPTU and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) are believed to be seeking pay increases upwards of 25 pc for workers at Irish Rail, and have today expressed their desire to ballot their members for industrial action.

It is understood that any industrial action will likely involve work stoppages running to a number of hours each day they are in effect.

In a letter presented to Irish Rail management today, SIPTU said it was “convening an urgent meeting of [its] National Rail Committee for Thursday to discuss the possibility of a ballot for strike action.”

The union says that the refusal of Irish Rail to engage “meaningfully” with its “substantial pay increase" claims for its members of all grades in the company was forcing the action.

NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary said his union was seeking a mandate for industrial action because of a refusal by the State-owned company to attend hearings at the Workplace Relations Commission.

“Irish Rail stands accused of ignoring the Industrial Relations institutions of the state; the NBRU referred a number of issues to the WRC on the 29th March, that referral included the ongoing pay cuts, a long overdue pay claim for rail workers and the 10 Minute Dart Service.

Mr O’Leary continued: “We will now immediately ballot all our members across Irish Rail to seek a mandate for Industrial Action… it is simply appalling that this abject failure to cooperate with industrial relations norms may potentially lead to the travelling public and workers being subjected to industrial unrest.”

Responding to the threat of strike action, Irish Rail said there was a “credibility gap” to NBRU’s claims.

“In recent weeks, the NBRU have walked out of ongoing discussions at the WRC over the 10-minute frequency DART schedule.

“Yesterday evening they refused to attend a meeting with Iarnród Éireann management to discuss issues surrounding DART drivers.

“[And they] continues to ignore the fact there is an existing pay agreement with all trade unions in place across Iarnród Éireann which expires in October of this year.”

The company added: “We believe the NBRU should – rather than planning ballots for industrial action - focus its efforts on engaging with all existing processes to ensure the company can deliver a better service to its customers, restore financial stability, and meet the aspiration for increased earnings amongst employees.”

Earlier this month, Irish Rail raised the threat of High Court action against the NBRU and SIPTU over what it alleges is unofficial industrial action by Dart drivers.

The company has accused Dart drivers of being in breach of their contracts by refusing to train in new staff.

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