Union leaders threaten to ramp up Irish Rail strike over Christmas
UNION leaders have threatened to ramp up a strike at Irish Rail over Christmas.
They also accused Transport Minister Shane Ross of being "absent without leave" at a picket at Heuston Station this morning.
The first of five 24-hour stoppages by Irish Rail workers is underway today, affecting 70,000 Dart users, 45,000 users of commuter services, and 40,000 Intercity customers.
The Irish Rail strikes will cost the company €900,000 per day, while workers will lose an average €1,200, although they will get a small payment in the form of strike pay.
General Secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers Union, Dermot O'Leary, warned that the strikes could continue into the New Year.
He said a "miserly" 1.7pc pay rise will not resolve the dispute and staff want a "credible, no strings attached pay rise".
"If it takes five days and indeed more to prosecute and effect that we will do that and unfortunately that would drag into Christmas and the New Year," he said.
Siptu Divisional Organiser, Greg Ennis, accused Transport Minister Shane Ross of sitting on his hands for five months by failing to set up a forum to discuss the future of public transport that he had promised.
The Labour Party's Transport Spokesman, Senator Kevin Humphreys, urged Minister Ross to "take some responsible" to try to help solve the dispute.
He said: "It’s clear we have a complete breakdown in trust between both sides in this dispute.
"Management needs to enter negotiations with no pre-conditions and a view to resolving this dispute to avoid any further disruption to the travelling public.
"No one wants to see strike action, least of all the hard working staff on the picket line.
"Unfortunately the breakdown in talks last month has caused a huge inconvenience the thousands of passengers who rely on Irish Rail services, and every effort must be made in the coming days to find a resolution.
"Minister Ross must take some responsibility for his lack of leadership in delaying to appoint a Chairperson to the Board."
He added: "We urgently need to get both sides back to the talks table without preconditions, and I again call on the Minister for Transport to facilitate this dialogue.
"With Christmas just around the corner the travelling public needs to be assured there will be no further disruption to this vital public service."
- More to follow...