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'The minister is talking about the Man United game instead of the rail strike'

Industrial action by Irish Rail workers affected many commuters in November.

original Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

TENS OF THOUSANDS of commuters were affected by Irish Rail strikes this year.

Two days of strike action took place in early November, but a further three days of industrial action planned for later that month and early December were called off on 10 November.

The industrial action was suspended so workers could be balloted on Labour Court recommendations. On 8 December, they accepted the deal.

At the time, the unions involved said in a joint statement: “The proposals include annual pay increases of 2.5% for three years. These will come into effective on 1 December 2017, 1 December 2018 and 1 December 2019.”

In a separate statement, Irish Rail thanked the Labour Court for “arranging a hearing of the issues surrounding the current dispute, and for the urgency with which it considered the submissions and issued its recommendation”.

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTS) received a number of complaints about the strike from members of the public, which TheJournal.ie has seen following a Freedom of Information request.

‘Holding the country to ransom’ 

On 31 October, one person asked the department why it was “allowing The Irish Rail Union to hold the entire country to ransom”.

The following day, another person said they were “very frustrated at the lack of noise about this rail strike today”.

They sent the department a screenshot of Transport Minister Shane Ross’s Twitter account “in which he is just talking about the Man United game last night as opposed to the imminent rail strike”.

sport Source: Shane Ross/Twitter

The person said they worked in a family-run retail business and November marked “the beginning of our busiest period, and an essential period for survival”.

“Dublin city have made their best efforts over the last few years to prevent cars from getting to town, and we are now held ransom to the service they so heavily want to rely on. Can you let me know what’s happening or do we have to put up with this for the rest of November?” they wrote.

‘I could have flown from Dublin to Prague quicker’

On 8 November, another person asked Ross: “Can you please advise on what you are doing about the ongoing dispute with Irish Rail? To date you have done nothing to fix this.”

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The person said they had paid €38 in bus fares to date and were annoyed Bus Éireann wouldn’t accept their rail ticket “even though they all report back to the same CIE board”.

Would you pay for a service twice? If the scheduled strikes all go ahead I will be out of pocket by €100.00 which I am sure that to you this is small change but this means that my family will be short €100.00 this Christmas.

The next day, a person wrote to Ross saying their normal morning commute from Portmarnock in Dublin to Bray in Wicklow “is anywhere from 2-2.5 hours and the return is usually about 2 hours”.

Due to the rail strike the day before, they said it took them almost two hours and 40 minutes to get to work in the morning “because of the extra traffic caused by the strike” and three hours to get home.

“I could have flown from Dublin to Prague and had 1 hour and 8 minutes to spare. Please intervene in this “dispute” because the services for public transport in this country are shockingly poor as it is without the chaos that was caused yesterday,” the person wrote.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie in November, Ross said: “I sincerely call on all parties to the Iarnród Éireann pay dispute to continue to use the services of the Labour Court and the WRC.

“It is vital for the travelling public – and also for the staff and for the company itself – that public transport is sustained, and that the dispute is resolved in a realistic, fair and workable manner.”

Read: The three remaining Irish Rail strikes have been suspended

Read: Decision time as Labour Court to issue recommendation on ending Irish Rail strike

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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