Latest: Unions won't rule out Christmas strikes unless pay is addressed

Update 11.04am: Rail unions say they won't rule out an escalation of their strike around Christmas.

No trains are running today in the first of five planned strike days.

Unions say there's still a large impasse between them and management over a pay rise for workers.

Greg Ennis from SIPTU says it means the other four planned days will likely go ahead.

He believes Transport Minister Shane Ross needs to intervene.

He said: "He was told that this strike was coming down the road, things have been in a difficult place for Irish Rail for a number of years at this stage, he has done nothing about it.

"We have ended up in a situation where our members do not want to be disappointing the public, they would rather be servicing the public, but unfortunately they are left with no option but to withdraw their labour.

"This is the first of five days and we are not ruling out any escalation towards the Christmas period and that would be most regrettable but that is our position."

In a letter to CIE, union members stated that ""the CIE Group and the Department of Transport are denying its own staff a long overdue and well-deserved pay rise.""

They further called on CIE to ""do the right thing and make a credible pay proposal in order to prevent further industrial unrest.""

      Dear Ms Finucane,

      We the Trade Union Group are to request that you will pass this correspondence to the CIÉ Board for its consideration.

      In the first instance it should be noted that our members do not want to be engaged in industrial action with their employer, it goes very much against the grain and it is a decision that was not taken lightly.

      However, after watching their representatives troop over and back to the third-party institutions, practically ad-infinitum, the WRC on at least eight occasions, two hearings at the Labour Court, the members of all Unions have said quite clearly that they have had enough, voting in large numbers to provide a mandate to prosecute industrial action on their behalf.

      The issues at the heart of this dispute, in some people’s eyes may appear to be complex, to the Trade Union Group, not so.

      The underfunding of Iarnrod Éireann by successive Governments being the core problem.

      Yet another complicating factor is the contractual relationship between the NTA and Iarnrod Éireann, in that little or no provision is made for pay improvements, the Company being restricted to a €3.5m profit.

      The Company (Iarnrod Éireann) facilitated it would seem by the CIÉ Group and the Department of Transport are denying its own Staff a long overdue and well-deserved pay rise.

      We are now calling on the CIE Group to provide support to the Staff at Iarnrod Éireann by advising Iarnrod Éireann that it should do the right thing and make a credible pay proposal in order to prevent further industrial unrest.

      For far too long we have been witnessing the servile approach by both the CIÉ Board and Iarnrod Éireann senior management, towards the policy makers and the paymasters in the Department of Transport, almost aping Oliver Twist by putting the hand out and saying: ‘please Sir can I have some more’.

      This has become an embarrassment to those that work across the CIE Companies, it is long since passed time that leadership was provided by your Board, by calling on the Department to release the foot from the throat of Iarnrod Éireann, and allow the Company to meaningfully engage with Staff in order to provide them with a substantial pay rise.

      Yours Sincerely,

      Dermot O’Leary Greg Ennis Willie Quigley Patrick McCusker Sean Heading


Earlier: Workers at Irish Rail have downed tools in a strike over pay.

No Intercity, DART or commuter service trains are running this morning - affecting more than 150 thousand passengers.

People commuting are being advised to leave extra time for their journeys - there's some extra private bus services running but demand is expected to be high.

Train drivers are looking for a 3.75% pay rise in each of the next three years.

The row has led to five days of stoppages.

Irish Rail say that's unaffordable, Barry Kenny from the company says they apologise for a lack of services today.

He said: "Unfortunately there are no trains operating on the Iarnród Éireann network today.

"For customers who usually travel with us unfortunately they will have to make other arrangements.

"Rail tickets won't be valid on other operator's services, we will be back fully tomorrow and we will refund customers for this disruption."

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