Transport Minister aims to avoid cuts to Irish Rail funding

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has said that he does not want to cut the government's subvention to Irish Rail any further.

Minister Donohoe says he will negotiate to maintain the current level of funding in the forthcoming budget.

Members of the unions which are refusing to sign up to planned pay cuts, SIPTU and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), were meeting with management at the Labour Relations Commision today in an effort to avert further strike action at the company.

Iarnród Éireann workers from the NBRU and SIPTU have already staged a 48 hour strike - and further strikes are planned for September 7, 8 and 21 in a dispute over the cuts. The stoppages on September 7 and 21 coincide with the All-Ireland hurling and football finals in Croke Park.

Overall, the rail company wants to find €8.5m in savings, of which it believes €4.7m should come from cuts in the staff pay bill. The cost- savings plan will see temporary pay cuts ranging from 1.7% for staff earning up to €56,000 and up to 6.1% for those earning more than €100,000.

Both SIPTU and the NBRU say the issue of state funding for the company is central to the cost-cutting row that has led to the industrial action.

Minister Donohoe said he hopes not to impose any further cuts in Government funding on Irish Rail.

"It is my intention to commence negotitions in relation to next year's budget by proposing no further cut from next year in subvention to Irish Rail," he said.

"I really welcome the fact that discussions have begun in the Labour Relations Commission and a successful outcome to these discussions is vital for the future of Irish Rail."

However Minister Donohoe is still refusing to intervene directly in the dispute, saying it would not be appropriate at this point.

"There have been many calls for different interventions in relation to this issue, which has been going on for well over 20 months," he said.

"In relation to the discussions between unions and management, the best possible forum for these discussions to take place is the Labour Relations Commission."

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