Irish Rail chief to depart

Irish Rail chief executive David Franks, who was described as “anti-driver” and “anti-union” by staff representatives earlier this week, has announced that he is to leave the company in the coming months.

David Franks

He is to take up a senior position in the public transport sector in Australia.

The announcement of his departure comes at a time when tensions are once again high between the company and its staff after drivers overwhelmingly rejected a Labour Court recommendation on past productivity and mentoring even though it would have involved a 1.15% pay increase for the productivity and €31 per day for training new drivers.

Unions referenced the “anti-worker agenda pursued by senior management” and “the dismissive behaviour displayed by the CEO of Irish Rail following a recent Labour Court recommendation on pay” as they issued their ballot results.

They have also warned of potential strikes if the company makes any attempt to bring in compulsory mentoring — unions have refused to train new entrants for the last 20 months according to management.

Mr Franks was appointed Irish Rail chief executive in February 2013, and the company said that over the past five years he had led the organisation through one of its most challenging financial eras.

Irish Rail chairman Frank Allen said: “David has led Iarnród Éireann at a very challenging time for the company and has delivered significant improvements in safety, passenger growth of 24%, and new customer- focused systems and processes. These changes will benefit the company for many years to come.

“The Iarnród Éireann board will commence the process of recruiting a new chief executive shortly, but I know David will remain fully committed to addressing the challenges the company faces in his remaining time with us.”

In a memo to staff, Mr Franks said: “Opportunities and challenges remain which we must face together and my focus until I leave will remain on working with the entire Iárnrod Éireann team in delivering our service to our customers and preparing Iárnrod Éireann for a secure and sustainable future.”

Following the announcement of the chief executive’s departure, National Bus and Rail Union general secretary Dermot O’Leary, tweeted: “Legacy of confrontation & conflict; brought Thatcher’s failed privatisation ideology with him.

“Frontline workers did heavy lifting in renaissance of Irish Rail throughout the 2000’s pre his arrival.”

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