Rail talks adjourned until Monday

Rail talks adjourned until Monday
Siptu staff during last week's 48-hour strike.

Talks at the Labour Relations Commission between unions and management at Iarnród Éireann have been adjourned until Monday.

Members of the unions which are refusing to sign up to planned pay cuts, Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), met with management for three hours today in an effort to avert further strike action at the company.

Iarnród Éireann workers from the NBRU and SIPTU already staged a 48 hour strike last week - 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.

However the NBRU and Siptu question the imposition of more hardship on their members. They point out that in recent years staff have accepted of payroll reductions amounting to €36m.

SIPTU spokesperson Owen Reidy said members are open to negotiation but want the Government to step up and play their part.

"There are big issues of trust and confidence," Mr Reidy said. "People have been here before, they've agreements before… and no sooner has the ink been dry than more has been expected.

"There's a lack of clarity in relation to the Government, so we need to hear what the Government has to say and what the company are going to do about a new process, because the gap is very significant."

Iarnród Éireann is adamant that the targeted savings are essential for its financial solvency as well as for the protection of customer services and the security of its workforce’s employment.

The rail company says it has suffered a reduction in annual income of more than €108m since the onset of the economic crisis — €72.3m in Public Service Obligation payments (a reduction of 38%) and €35.2m in revenue.

It adds that, despite reducing annual operating costs by €73m in the same period, it has recorded losses annually in successive years, with a loss of €16.4m in 2013.

Speaking earlier today Iarnród Éireann spokesman Barry Kenny said the company was firm on the need for pay cuts.

"We need payroll savings," Mr Kenny said. "We also need non-payrolls savings (and) we need to grow revenue, which we are doing.

"We also need sustainable funding into the future," he added.

"And we are engaged with the NTA and the Department of Transport in terms of how that funding will be in the years to come."

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