Irish Rail says the pay claim of up to 25% lodged by one of its unions is “not grounded in reality” given the company’s current financial position.
The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) lodged the pay demand on the back of this week’s proposed agreement between Luas operator Transdev and its staff which will result in pay increases there of up to 19%.
NBRU has pointed out there is a “vast gulf” between the job its members do in Irish Rail and what is expected of those working on “light rail”.
It has arrived at its total demand by adding the 19% on offer to Luas workers to a 6% claim it says Irish Rail staff have been owed since 2009 under the Towards 2016 social partnership agreement.
The union also demanded an end to the temporary cut in workers’ wages which was imposed 29 months ago and is not due to be lifted until next October.
NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said his members in Irish Rail are more than aware that the economic picture has changed dramatically and that “passenger numbers and revenue have also risen dramatically over the last two years”.
“You will be aware that the industry norm in public transport has been brought into sharp focus at the WRC over recent days [with the Luas deal],” he wrote in a letter to Irish Rail management.
“The recent dispute at Dublin’s light rail system has also served to illuminate the differences between the treatment of workers in the CIE group of companies and those working on the tram system.
“The partial lifting of the veil of secrecy has made for startling revelations, among which is the fact that the staff in the light rail system were paid the Towards 2016 transitional payment of 6% while additionally there were no retrenchment measures applied to light rail staff.”
Mr O’Leary said his members were having extreme difficulty understanding how they, as workers in a public transport service part-funded by the Government, were somehow different than others “in the same space”.
He also referenced the dispute over the introduced of a 10-minute Dart service, saying his members were adamant they would not co-operate with that “in the absence of dialogue on pay reward”.
In a statement in response to the NBRU demand, an Irish Rail spokeswoman said the company “remains in a very difficult financial position with annual losses, and an accumulated deficit of €135m, and is only paying wages and bills through loans”.
“One of the measures taken was a temporary pay reduction ranging from 1.7% to 6.1% for 25 months and this will conclude in October of this year,” she said.
“That agreement is one that all unions including NBRU signed up to. The NBRU purport to understand our financial position so the comments of the union are not grounded in reality.”
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