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Sam Boal/

Irish Rail threatens unions with legal action after drivers refuse to train new recruits

The company says they are breaching their contracts, but unions say participation in training is voluntary.

IRISH RAIL HAS been criticised this evening after threatening to take court action against unions representing train drivers.

In a letter to unions, the company’s Director of Human Resources Ciaran Masterson took issue with drivers’ “continued refusal” to train new drivers, accusing them of breaching their contracts.

“This culminated in a situation both yesterday and today where a number of drivers refused en bloc to allow the new recruits into their cabs to commence their in cab familiarisation,” he said.

He called on the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu to immediately inform their members to cease this activity, adding that failure to do so would result in action, including High Court legal proceedings, being taken against unions.

Unions, however, claim drivers’ contracts say participation in the training of new drivers is entirely voluntary.

In a statement, general secretary of the NBRU, Dermot O’Leary, said the company had “reached a new low” by threatening court action over “what is clearly a matter of individual choice for drivers”.

He said it was appalling that a State-owned company would “resort to such skulduggery”.

“The NBRU will vigorously defend our integrity as a trade union – any industrial action we ever undertake commences only after we receive a mandate from our members,” he said.

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