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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Union warns Irish Rail it faces a 'summer of discontent across our railways'

Irish Rail
Irish Rail

Anne Marie Walsh and Denise Calnan

A union has warned Irish Rail it faces a “summer of discontent across our railways” if it fails to discuss claims for pay rises.

General Secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers Union, Dermot O’Leary, warned that in the absence of “real dialogue” on pay “we will be left with no alternative but to accede to the clamour from our members to ballot for industrial action, leading to the inevitably of a summer of discontent across our railways".

He accused Irish Rail of “peddling untruths” in relation to the availability of newly trained drivers.

His comments come as it was announced Irish Rail is postponing plans for ten-minute frequency services citing 'union intransigence'.

The company had planned to introduce a ten-minute frequency service from April 10 but were threatened with strike action from the unions representing drivers.

Mr O’Leary said blaming Dart drivers and their unions is “disingenuous in the extreme”.

He said Irish Rail’s comments are designed to deflect from the fact that management at Irish Rail did not carry out the necessary advance planning for recruitment or talks with staff.

Mr O’Leary said it was refusing to engage with worker representatives on pay when passenger numbers and revenue are heading back to peak levels.

“The government as the main shareholder has a responsibility to both passengers and staff to ensure the appropriate funding is in place to run the rail service,” he said. 

Earlier today, the Transport Minister said he was still committed to a ten-minute DART service.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said the delay "was all part of the process".

Speaking to Newstalk's Breakfast, he said: "This is all part of the process they need to go through in order to deliver the changes needed for the new service.

"I am still absolutely committed to improving transport services for commuters and ten-minute service is part of this."

In a statement issued today, Irish Rail said: "Unions refused to attend talks over the new 10 minute service earlier this month.

"Siptu and the Nbru said the dispute over the more frequent service had been overtaken by pay increases negotiated at the Luas, which they are now demanding for their members.

"They said they will not engage with Irish Rail at the Workplace Relations Commission until it responds to their claim for an increase to match the Luas increase as well as the payment of 6pc due under an old social partnership agreement.

"Members of the unions have balloted in favour of industrial action, up to strike action, if the company imposes the new service without their agreement."

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