herald

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Rail bosses and unions to hold talks after strike chaos

An empty Connolly Station during the strike this week. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
An empty Connolly Station during the strike this week. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Irish Rail and union representatives are set to hold talks at the Labour Court today in a bid to resolve their industrial dispute.

Irish Rail, Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) have all accepted invitations from the court to attend a hearing on the bitter pay wrangle and associated strike action.

Tens of thousands of commuters faced rush-hour chaos on the roads on Tuesday when Irish Rail workers staged a second day of walk-outs.

Another three days of strike action are planned for the coming weeks.

"The company has accepted the invitation, and has been consistent in its position that the industrial relations machinery of the State provides the only forum where the current issues can be addressed and resolved," said a statement from Irish Rail.

"While at this time Irish Rail has not been advised of a withdrawal by trade unions of the further dates of industrial action (November 14 and 23, December 8), the company hopes that the issues can be resolved in a manner that ensures customers suffer no further disruption to services."

NBRU cautioned against expectations that the dispute would be resolved.

The union's general secretary, Dermot O'Leary, said it was a "potential step forward" to resolve what he described as a "debilitating and unnecessary dispute".

Siptu transport division organiser Greg Ennis said: "We have confirmed that Siptu representatives will attend the hearing with a view to achieving an acceptable resolution of the pay dispute."

Strain

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned on Tuesday that pay increases for rail workers should wait until investment had been made to the fleet and infrastructure.

He said money should first be spent on safety, increasing line speed and buying more carriages to improve the ser- vice and respond to climate change.

Irish Rail, which is already under deep financial strain, is set to lose about €1.5m if staff go ahead with plans to stage another three days of stopp- ages.

The next planned strike is on the day of Ireland's World Cup play-off game against Denmark in Dublin next Tuesday, with the fallout likely to increase pressure on Transport Minister Shane Ross.

The following stoppage is scheduled for December 8, traditionally the busiest Christmas shopping day of the year.

No trains operated on intercity, Dart and commuter routes on Tuesday.

The result was huge volumes of traffic in and out of the main cities and a surge in demand for bus and Luas services.

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