Rail unions warn of potential industrial action

Two rail unions have warned of industrial action if talks with Irish rail management at the Workplace Relations Commission, which begin today, do not lead to a reduced working week and better pay for members.

The talks follow the publication of an independent report, commissioned by the Labour Court, on past productivity at the rail company and a cut to the working week. One part of that report benchmarked drivers’ terms and conditions against their counterparts in Britain and the North.

Yesterday, the two driver unions, Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union, issued a joint statement in which they said the report had thrown up some “challenges” for drivers, not least the necessity to reach a similar level of driving hours as their British counterparts.

They said they were willing to discuss the broad agenda set out in the report with a view to embracing some of the changes necessary to secure improvements for drivers.

“It is imperative that the company will reciprocate by facilitating the reduction in the working week and agreeing to improve the terms and conditions of its driving resource,” they said. “Failure to so do will inevitably result in our members having to resort to engaging in industrial action.”

Irish Rail said the report concluded much of what was claimed as past productivity either did not constitute productivity or had already been addressed by previous agreements.

“The Labour Court recommendation did provide for the outcomes to be reviewed at the WRC, and the report itself states that further study is required in some areas including comparative conditions for any conclusions to be drawn,” a spokesman said. “In addition, it is imperative that issues surrounding co-operation with driver training are addressed and resolved.”


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