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No threat of strike action, says Irish Rail

IRISH Rail has responded to claims by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and said no strike action is being threatened.

This statement came despite Mr Varadkar's warning of inevitable industrial action over a range of cost reduction measures that the company are hoping to introduce.

"There has been no strike threatened at this point," spokesman for Irish Rail Barry Kenny said.

"We don't think it is inevitable, but we have not reached agreement with our trade unions on some payroll cost reductions that we need."

TALKS

TALKS BETWEEN IRISH RAIL AND THEIR EMPLOYEE UNIONS AT THE LABOUR RELATIONS COMMISSION (LRC) ENDED IN FAILURE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

The company is seeking to achieve €4.7m in savings, mostly by reducing staff pay.

The Transport Minister has admitted that he fears strikes if agreement cannot be reached.

"The last thing anyone wants to see is passengers disrupted and I would hope that some agreement can be reached, but within the next one to two months, I can see rail strikes happening," Mr Varadkar said.

However, Irish Rail's Barry Kenny has dismissed this.

"We don't actually feel that the gap between us and the trade unions is insurmountable," Mr Kenny said, adding: "But ultimately, we will have to realise the savings.

"There has been a lot of co-operation from the staff," Mr Kenny continued.

"But finances are just too difficult. Our state funding has been reduced by over €70m. "We're talking about solvency here, it's that fundamental. It's something we urgently need to resolve."

Unite, one of the unions representing employees at Irish Rail, has now called on the minister to "refrain from further comment." and slammed the Minister's remarks as "unhelpful and ill-considered".

"With outstanding issues expected to go before the Labour Court in the coming weeks, the minister would be well-advised to maintain a neutral stance rather than using the media to re-state the company's position," Unite official Willie Quigley said.

"In the interests of rail service users, Unite would urge the Minister to refrain from any further comment."

Separately, inaudible announcements on station platforms are a major problem for customers, Irish Rail has admitted.

The company claims that poor quality updates for their services will soon be a thing of the past.

"On the DART in particular it is a big problem," said Mr Kenny. "We are going to replace these systems completely.

"We have improved the systems on about half of the carriages, but we need a complete replacement of the rest," Mr Kenny said.

hnews@herald.ie


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