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Friday 2 December 2016

Commuter fears for train strikes grow as unions to ballot drivers on action

NBRU’s Dermot O’Leary
NBRU’s Dermot O’Leary

Train driver unions will ballot their members on industrial action next week as talks with bosses derailed.

Both Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) have confirmed they will begin to ballot their members on Monday over industrial action.

Talks with the semi-state company over pay collapsed at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) last week.

Siptu said their decision to ballot for action came after a meeting in Liberty Hall yesterday, and they hope to have the results of this on October 5.

They are accusing Irish Rail of "reneging on a commitment to reward past productivity increases".

"The company refused to engage in discussion on past productivity despite this being part of an agreement between trade unions and management in September 2014," Paul Cullen, Siptu organiser, said.

The NBRU's Loco Driver committee also met yesterday and they said the contemplated industrial action includes stoppages on Dart, commuter services and national rail services.

Dermot O'Leary, NBRU general secretary, said the "anger" felt by train drivers in their union has been "exacerbated by the response of the company following last week's debacle at the LRC".

They are also claiming that the Irish Rail CEO David Franks "attempted to lay the blame for the breakdown of talks with drivers" on the basis that they had rejected an offer to talk about future productivity.

Productivity

Mr O'Leary maintains that the agreement reached in the LRC last September between the parties "contains a clause which states that the issue of past productivity should be addressed through normal industrial relations".

However, Irish Rail last night said it was "very disappointing" to receive the notices from unions about their intention to ballot for action over what they describe as "historical productivity claims".

The company said it offered to refer the matter to the Labour Court, but claims "this was declined despite agreed procedures with the Trade Unions to deal with dispute resolution in this way".

Irish Rail also warned: "In a situation where the company continues to lose over €1m a month, we must ensure that we identify verifiable cost savings through defined productivity measures if we are to be in a position to increase pay.

"Any other course of action would renew the threat to the future viability of Irish Rail, job security for all employees, and the services we provide to our customers," Irish Rail's spokesperson added.

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