Irish Rail staff facing ballot for industrial action

Irish Rail staff are to be balloted for industrial action up to strike, over the alleged refusal of the company to discuss pay issues at the Workplace Relations Commission.

The National Bus and Rail Union, which represents more than 630 workers at the company, including 300 drivers, will ballot its members over the next 10 days. The form of action has not yet been decided.

Last year, workers engaged in a series of stoppages lasting two to three hours.

The union’s general secretary, Dermot O’Leary, accused Irish Rail management of “demeaning and disparaging the industrial relations norms by refusing to accede to a reasonable request to attend the Workplace Relations Commission”.

He said the company was content to discuss pay cuts and service improvements, while at the same time “ignoring the concerns of staff”.

Last month the NBRU lodged a pay claim for up to 25% rises for members. The company and staff are also at odds over workers’ refusal to operate a 10-minute Dart service as well as a threat by Irish Rail to take legal action against both NBRU and the other staff union, Siptu, over what the company described as a breach of contracts by drivers refusing to train new recruits.

Siptu said it had yesterday also referred a pay claim, likely to be in excess of 20%, for its members in Irish Rail to the WRC.

“We have requested the restoration of all of the pay and other terms and conditions under the cost containment agreement which ends in October this year,” said its organiser, Paul Cullen.

He said the union would also meet tomorrow to discuss a ballot for strike action over “the refusal of management to engage meaningfully”.

An Irish Rail spokesman said there was a “credibility gap” in the reason for the NBRU ballot, given the union had itself undertaken a series of “walkouts, unofficial actions, and refusals to engage with the company”.

He said that, in recent weeks, the NBRU had walked out of discussions at the WRC on the 10-minute Dart service, refused to attend a meeting directly with Iarnród Éireann management to discuss Dart drivers, and orchestrated unofficial action to prevent the training of new Dart drivers.


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