Thursday 14 December 2017

Irish Rail strike cost cash-strapped company €1.5m

Members of the National Bus And Rail Union outside Heuston Station
Members of the National Bus And Rail Union outside Heuston Station
Irish rail chief executive David Franks at an emergency meeting at Irish Rail offices on Amiens Street yesterday

Gordon Deegan

The two-day rail strike that hit tens of thousands of GAA fans and commuters cost the financially strapped Irish Rail €1.5m in lost revenues, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said.

Mr Donohoe said the rail company was already in a difficult position before services came to a halt on Sunday and Monday.

Three further days of strike action are planned by 
SIPTU and the National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU) later this month, in response to Irish Rail seeking temporary pay cuts.

At the Cliffs of Moher, in Co Clare, yesterday at the launch of new Bus Eireann services along the Wild Atlantic Way, Mr Donohoe said that Irish Rail had accumulated financial losses of €150m and that was the reason why he felt the "wage cuts for a specific period of time, with an average of 1.6pc, are really vital to make a big contribution to the viability of Irish Rail".

Mr Donohoe said the next intervention in the dispute would be vital. "I appreciate the disruption that was caused to commuters over the past two days - I also appreciate the difficulty in asking for people to vote for their own wages to be cut and the work the unions and workers have already done to deliver productivity gains and deliver reforms to Irish Rail. But in recognition of the very difficult situation that the company is in, these savings through payroll are necessary," he added.

Mr Donohoe said if the planned strike days "all go ahead, they will result in greater losses to the workers than the wage cuts themselves when implemented across that period".

Irish Rail has said it will run out of money in 2015 if it does not cut wages this year.

SIPTU, which has been taking part in the industrial action alongside NBRU, claims costs have been cut by €73m over the last four years.

"My overall point to everyone involved is to reflect on the impact of the losses over the last two days and to emphasise that a revenue loss of €1.5m to a company that is already in great difficulty is something that is going to make their current situation very difficult," said Mr Donohoe.

He said the "bodies who have the expertise to deal with this are monitoring the situation carefully".

Irish Independent

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