A LONG-RUNNING dispute over pay at Irish Rail has been referred to the Labour Court, with the hearing expected to take place on 4 April.
It’s after the majority of unions last month rejected proposals put forward by the Labour Relations Commission relating to changes in terms and conditions of employment.
Irish Rail called for the urgent referral of the matter to the Court as soon as those results were confirmed, saying that the services targeted were “essential to secure the financial viability” of the company.
The General Secretary of the NBRU, one of five unions involved in the dispute, gave a guarded response to the confirmation of the Labour Court date.
“The NBRU will fulfil our obligations with regard to attending at the Labour Court in order to set out our members mandated position in relation to the Company’s proposals,” Dermot O’Leary said.
However, he warned that:
The expectation that the Labour Court can bring about an Industrial Relations solution to what is a politically imposed problem runs the risk of undermining those State bodies tasked with resolving industrial disputes.
He added that “reducing subvention to the levels which were obtained in 1998 and then expecting that you can maintain a 2014 level of service by simply asking workers to plug the gap is not a sustainable funding platform for public transport provision”.
The NBRU, along with SIPTU, UNITE and the TEEU all rejected the cost-cutting proposals set out by the LRC. The TSSA voted to accept them by a margin of 73 per cent to 27 per cent.
The proposals would have seen the introduction of pay cuts ranging from 1.7 per cent to just over six per cent, lasting for up to three years.
Irish Rail has warned that “each week that passes without these savings being secured costs the company an additional €100,000″.
Speaking in January, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said he thought strike action at the company was “inevitable”.