Unions warns Irish Rail pay dispute ‘new frontline’

Siptu has warned that the Iarnród Éireann pay dispute is the “new frontline” in the battle to ensure adequate funding for public transport.

“Employees, who are after almost 10 years of a pay freeze, can no longer be expected to subsidise this public transport service,” the union’s divisional organiser told its biennial conference in Cork.

“Enough is enough. And like the recent disputes in the Luas, Dublin Bus, and Bus Éireann, Siptu will not be found wanting in fully supporting our 1,900 members in Iarnród Éireann in their pursuit of a long overdue pay increase.”

Rail workers have threatened strike action over their claim for pay increases of 3.75% without productivity measures. The company has only offered 1.5% and wants workers to give further productivity in exchange.

Their unions have pointed to the lack of state funding in the transport system as the reason why their members have not seen the pay increases to which they feel they are entitled.

Mr Ennis said Siptu would vehemently campaign to oppose the deliberate underfunding of public transport “which is simply designed to manufacture a false environment to justify privatisation, be it in aviation or transport”.

Delegates also voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion for their union to “support the call for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment”.

Siptu national executive committee member, Suzanna Griffin, said women comprise more than half of the trade union membership here: “It is unacceptable that they live in a country where the law puts their health and lives at risk, criminalises them and forces them to travel abroad to avail of safe and legal abortion services.”

“But this motion is not asking any delegate here to make a moral or personal decision on the provision of abortion in Ireland.

“It is merely asking you to support the call for a referendum so that the people of Ireland can make a democratic decision as they did in 1983,” she said.

Delegates also heard that Siptu’s image has been “transformed” by the success of its members in the Women’s National Football Team in securing better conditions.

In a dispute earlier this year, the players had been looking for compensation for loss of earnings, a match fee, and expenses and the provision of team gear.

The union’s incoming deputy general secretary, Ethel Buckley, said the stance taken by the team has brought the message of the victories that can be won through collectivisation, “and very importantly collectivisation with the support of our union, to a new audience of young people, women in particular”.

“It has also provided a new iconic image of Liberty Hall, that of a group of young, determined women standing boldly outside the home of Irish trade unionism in green t-shirts — with one simple, clear demand — to be respected as athletes and workers.”

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