Commuter chaos for thousands amid Iarnród Éireann strike

Thousands of commuters today face the first of five days of transport chaos as Iarnród Éireann workers take to the picket lines in a strike action prompted by a prolonged pay dispute.

The company says more than 150,000 journeys are made daily on its network, which will come to a halt today as Intercity, Dart, and Commuter routes are cancelled. The 24-hour work stoppage began this morning at 00.01am. Further stoppages are planned for November 7, November 14, November 23, and December 8.

Unions are seeking a 3.75% pay increase without any associated productivity measures. However, the company has only offered 1.75% accompanied by productivity measures.

The unions said workers, who have not received a pay rise in almost a decade, are no longer prepared to subsidise an underfunded public service in which subvention had been cut by 41% from 2008 to 2013. They threatened to escalate their action if the dispute is not resolved.

The company has said its financial position is extremely challenging and that insolvency is looming if it makes further losses.

Appeals for an eleventh-hour resolution last night appeared to be futile, as unions upped the ante by accusing the Department of Transport and Irish Rail of “colluding against staff at the company in their pursuance of a long overdue and well-deserved pay-rise”.

“It is now quite obvious to those of us that represent frontline transport workers, that there is an ‘axis of collusion” between department officials and the various transport companies with regard to resisting the genuine pay claims of workers who have gone long periods, 10 years in the case of Irish Rail, without a pay rise,” said National Bus and Rail Union general secretary Dermot O’Leary.

In a letter to staff yesterday, Iarnród Éireann CEO David Franks warned that if the five days of strike action go ahead, each worker will lose, on average, €1,200.

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