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off the rails

Irish Rail staff to go on strike on five dates in November and December

Unions have accused the Irish Rail CEO of undercutting his negotiators last night.

Update at 8.30pm

STAFF AT IRISH Rail are set to take industrial action after pay talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) collapsed late last night.

A joint statement from unions this evening confirmed that five 24-hour stoppages would take place between the start of November and 8 December.

The dates are as follows:

  • Wednesday 1 November
  • Tuesday 7 November
  • Tuesday 14 November
  • Thursday 23 November
  • Friday 8 December

The trade union group at the company said it would “conduct reviews on an ongoing basis and may decide to escalate the action by way of increased frequency and duration”.

Earlier a statement from Siptu said its members at Irish Rail had voted by 84% in favour of industrial action.

NBRU members, meanwhile, have voted 92% in favour.

Irish Rail said it regrets the decision by the unions Siptu, NBRU, TSSA and Unite to schedule the five 24-hour strikes.

Business group Ibec said the strikes would cause “massive and unnecessary disruption to the travelling public and businesses alike” and called for renewed efforts to halt the impasse.

Last night

Irish Rail said that it moved its position last night to offering a 1.75% pay increase for one year coupled with efficiency improvements.

These included performance management, absenteeism management, revisions to redeployment policy and payroll. The company said it was committed to discussing more substantive productivity issues to fund further improvements in pay beyond this year.

However, the group of unions at the company – Siptu, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), Unite, the TSSA and TEEU – said that the company had treated staff with disdain.

Unions have accused Irish Rail CEO David Franks of undercutting his own negotiators and taking a potential offer off the table. Irish Rail has denied this.

In a joint statement, released earlier today, the group said:

“Irish Rail senior management have once again demonstrated their total disdain for their own staff and those that rely on Irish Rail services.

“We have spent the last twelve hours engaging in what we understood to be last-ditch efforts to produce a proposal on pay which could be presented to our members, and in so doing stave off what we consider to be unnecessary industrial action.

Such action will discommode tens of thousands of commuters over the coming weeks, in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.

Go back 

Meanwhile in a statement today Irish Rail urged unions to go back to the Labour Court.

The company has reiterated that the talks at the WRC arose from a Labour Court recommendation, which stated that if at the end of the WRC process there were outstanding issues of difference, they should be referred back to the Labour Court for a final recommendation.

“Iarnród Éireann remains committed to this process, and to resolving this claim through dialogue, and through the industrial relations machinery of the state.

“Customers should not be disrupted in any way while this process – set out by the Labour Court – has not yet been concluded.”

Siptu organiser Greg Ennis said this afternoon:

It was always only as a last resort that our 1,900 members in Irish Rail said that they would initiate industrial action. However, due to the intransigent and combative attitude displayed by management over recent weeks, they have no alternative.
This was particularly evident before the breakdown of talks in the Workplace Relations Commission, last night.

NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary said the company appeared “hell-bent on forcing its own staff onto the picket lines” and creating an environment “which will bring nothing but misery to thousands of rail commuters”.

O’Leary said it was time “political leadership was provided by the Minister for Transport with regard to the publicly-owned public transport companies”.

- With reporting by Daragh Brophy 

Read: Strike threatened: Rail union warns of possible ‘travel chaos’ in coming weeks >

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