Tuesday 20 March 2018

'The only alternative' - Strike action fears for rail and bus passengers unless 'tangible' offer made

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Anne-Marie Walsh

RAIL and bus passengers may face strikes next month, a union leader has warned.

General Secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers Union, Dermot O'Leary, said unless Irish Rail makes a "tangible" offer of a pay rise, members will hold an immediate ballot.

And he also revealed that the union has written to Bus Éireann warning that it is heading towards a potential standoff that could result in more industrial action by the end of October.

The union chief also said any attempt by the CIE companies to impose changes to pensions could lead to industrial action that "would have catastrophic consequences" for the entire transport network.

Mr O'Leary singled out Irish Rail Chief Executive David Franks for stinging criticism, describing him as a "modern day Irish RM" who incessantly informs staff about how brilliant he is.

He said unless progress is made at talks on a pay rise at the company after unions demanded 3.75pc a year, a ballot will be held.

"Unless a tangible offer is made, unless something substantial is on the table, the NBRU will not, I repeat, will not, be a party to abusing the good offices of the Labour Court by going back and asking it to do the impossible," he said.

"The only alternative open to us at this juncture will be to undertake an immediate ballot for industrial action across our railways. Let us then see how Mr Ross and his fellow cosseted Dublin based TDs will explain to their constituents how it is that their trains are not running."

He said it appears that Mr Franks is determined to force his own staff out onto the streets.

"This is the man that, on one hand preaches the poor mouth, whilst on the other hand he is up in Enniskillen acting like some modern day Irish RM fishing with his fellow acolytes from the mainland, allegedly financed by taxpayers' money," he said.

"He is incessant with his communications to staff about how brilliant he is, about all the successes he had, securing extra funding from the department."

He claimed the human resources department, which has responsibility for industrial relations, has been gagged.

Unions are due to meet Irish Rail negotiators at the Workplace Relations Commission next week to discuss the pay claim.

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