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Strike by Irish Rail workers to hit All-Ireland semi and finals

The NBRU has announced work stoppages to coincide with the championship.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Updated 7.35 pm

IRISH RAIL HAS said that there would be no train services on the day of the first All-Ireland football semi-final if the NBRU’s proposed strike goes ahead this month.

The union today announced that it will hold a two-day work stoppage starting on Sunday 24 August if the company pushes ahead with pay cuts.

Further one-day stoppages have also been proposed for 7 and 21 September, the days of the All-Ireland Hurling and Football finals.

A spokesperson for Irish Rail told TheJournal.ie this afternoon that additional services would usually be in place on those days but such industrial action would make a complete halting of rail services inevitable.

“If the action goes ahead we wouldn’t be in a position to offer any service, the numbers involved would be very significant,” said spokesperson Barry Kenny.

Irish Rail insists that the pay cuts are needed and points to a Labour Court recommendation which acknowledged that a hole in the company’s finances needed to be plugged. They say that their annual income is €108 million down since the economic crisis

“The action is only hurt customers and will hurt workers also,” added Kenny.

The company says that the Labour Court proposed that the pay cuts be for a period of 28 months and would represent between 1.7 to 5% of basic pay depending on an employees salary.

The union said in statement that they deliberately chose the Sunday stoppages “to dilute the impact on the travelling public as much as possible.”

The also say that the initial two-day stoppage was timed to “take place in advance of school term and at the end of the traditional summer holiday season”.

Union leaders say that they are not deliberately targeting GAA fans by scheduling the work stoppages on the planned dates and insist that the public is always considered when decisions on industrial action are taken.

The NBRU withdrew from talks with the company in June saying that “no serious attempts” were being made to address concerns of their members.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary says that the company is attempting to run a 2014 service on funding equivalent to 1998 levels and that the only way for the strike to be averted is for “the company to drawback from their stated intention”.

O’Leary added that the Government may need to become involved to help the dispute.

“There’s a role here for Government as well, the Government have an issue in terms of funding,” he says. ”The simple statement of fact is that subvention has stopped since 2007.”

SIPTU also voted last month to reject proposals that would see pay cuts phased in over 25 months and voted in favour of a work to rule programme beginning on the same day as the intended strikes.

O’Leary says that their members have rejected proposals in three separate ballots and that members have today voted in favour of the work stoppages.

This evening however, Iarnród Éireann Chief Executive David Franks has asked both unions not to go ahead with their planned actions:

I would again urge all colleagues and our trade unions not to undertake any action which disrupts services, worsens our financial situation, and puts all our employment at risk.

Read: Union withdraws from Irish Rail talks as ‘no serious attempts made to address concerns’ >

Read: Irish Rail workers vote for industrial action but don’t want to strike >

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Rónán Duffy

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