Friday 18 January 2019

Rail staff still prepared for more strikes

UNIONS at Irish Rail are still threatening strike action, which would hit hurling fans this weekend, as the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) hears "exploratory talks".

A dispute at the company over temporary pay cuts has rumbled on between management and members of unions Siptu and the NBRU.

A two-day work stoppage was held by Irish Rail staff beginning on August 24, which affected around 160,000 travellers.

Even more commuters could be hit if planned strike action goes ahead on Sunday and Monday, with the All-Ireland hurling final between Tipperary and Kilkenny and children heading back to school.

The unions have said the threat of strike action was still on the table, and a spokesman for the company confirmed that there was no further progress.

"It's too early to say at this stage. We are still engaged in exploratory talks, so we're not negotiating directly with management," NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary said.


A spokesman for the company said the notice of strike action on September 7 and 8 stood.

It comes as Taoiseach Enda Kenny said further strike action would damage the company.

"There are very well tried and tested mechanisms for dealing with disputes," he said.

"I would urge management and unions to continue their talks at the LRC where hopefully a resolution can be found."

Talks began at the LRC on Saturday, with the commission hearing submissions from both sides.

Irish Rail had unilaterally introduced pay cuts of between 1.7pc and 6pc for staff, starting from August 24.

However, management have said the cuts would only remain in place for 28 months.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has said the first two days of the strike action last moth cost the company €1.5m.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has said it was "absolutely essential" that both sides in the dispute reached a settlement.


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