LRC talks bid to end train drivers' dispute

Train drivers unions and management will enter talks tomorrow in a bid to resolve an unofficial work stoppage which has left thousands of passengers stranded.

The Labour Relations Commission will host exploratory discussions between Iarnrod Eireann and unions in Cork over a strike that is estimated to have cost the company around €2m.

All sides involved, including the National Bus and Railworkers’ Union (NBRU) and SIPTU, welcomed the intervention which they hope will put an end to the impasse.

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey earlier said he was not going to blame either side for the current situation but urged the parties to “get in and talk”.

“It is not acceptable that the public are left without a public transport service by unofficial action, that’s bottom line as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

An Iarnród Éireann spokesman said the company welcomed the assistance of the LRC and hoped that progress could be made which will assist a swift resumption of rail services in Cork and Kerry.

The action started on Thursday when a driver was removed from the payroll after refusing to drive a train to facilitate the training of new trainee drivers.

The drivers yesterday said they would return to work on the basis that continuing their action would only serve to further inconvenience the travelling public, but on arrival drivers refused to sign a document and continued the unofficial action.

SIPTU branch organiser Jackie Pearson and the NBRU’s Dermot O’Leary said confirmed union representatives will attend the exploratory talks in Cork.

“Hopefully the LRC will be able to find a way out of the impasse that has developed around the basis on which train drivers will return to work,” added Mr Pearson.

Meanwhile, Iarnród Éireann said it expected disruption to continue in Cork and Kerry tomorrow.

Almost 20 trains running to and from Dublin will be cancelled, along with all Cork services to Cobh, Mallow and Tralee.

A small number of services will operate on Cork and Kerry routes with bus transfers.

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