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28th Sep 2017

‘Widespread travel chaos’ predicted ahead of potential Irish Rail strike

This does not sound promising.

The NBRU blasted what they called the “contemptuous attitude” of Irish Rail management towards its staff.

The General Secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has warned of the possibility of “widespread travel chaos” after talks between Irish Rail and the unions representing their workers over pay increases for Irish Rail staff broke down at the Workplace Relations Commission on Wednesday.

Dermot O’Leary said that the NBRU has been “left with no choice but to immediately move to ballot all its members for industrial action up to and including all-out strike” and accused senior management at Irish Rail of having “little or no regard for their workers”.

Ahead of the conciliation conference at the Workplace Relations Commission on Wednesday, SIPTU members in Irish Rail had already stated that it would represent the last opportunity for progress on a pay increase before they are forced to consider industrial action.

A NBRU statement on Wednesday indicated the fury of NBRU members at what was described as a “contemptuous attitude” towards Irish Rail staff in refusing to offer a meaningful ‘no strings attached’ pay rise after a decade-long pay freeze.

It is believed that Irish Rail had offered a pay increase for staff of 1.5%, with a number of conditions including reduced hours and line closures, claiming that their ability to match the demands of the unions was compromised by accumulated debts of €160 million.

The offer fell well below the annual increase of 3.75% the unions had been seeking and industrial action is expected to follow as a result.

“After a decade-long pay hiatus, the expectation of a long overdue pay rise for Irish Rail staff has not materialised,” said NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary.

“Our members have looked at colleagues in the Public Transport Sector enjoying pay increases of up to 3.75%, while Irish Rail is thumbing its nose at its own Staff by making a pitiful offer, at a time when passenger numbers and revenue at Irish Rail are at a historical high, is contemptuous to say the least. Sadly the Senior Management at the State Company have little or no regard for their workers.”

O’Leary added:

“The patience of a beleaguered workforce has run out after today’s charades at the WRC, the spectacle of highly paid senior managers being effectively gagged and restricted to offering ‘strings attached’ crumbs to its staff, including the disgraceful caveat of seeking union acquiescence to the closure of rail lines in order to fund a pay rise, has now brought frustration levels to the stage whereby the NBRU is left with no choice but to immediately move to ballot all its members for industrial action up to and including all-out strike, resulting in widespread travel chaos for commuters in the next number of weeks.”