Siptu, the largest driver union at Irish Rail, has rejected an amended Labour Court recommendation on cost savings at the company and said it will no longer negotiate with management if pay reductions remain on the table.
The company has said €8.5m in targeted savings are essential for its financial solvency as well as for the protection of customer services and the security of its workforce’s employment. As part of that total, it has sought €4.7m through cuts to its wage bill.
Prolonged negotiation with the staff trade unions resulted in acceptance of Labour Court proposals by TSSA, the Technical Electrical and Engineering Union, and Unite. However, during further negotiations with the two driver unions, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu, NBRU pulled out and threatened strike action if the cost-savings plan was unilaterally implemented.
Siptu put the amended recommendation to a ballot of its members and yesterday that returned a result of 53% to 47% in favour of rejection.
Siptu organiser Paul Cullen said: “It is clear from this ballot result that our members have categorically rejected the acceptance of any further pay reductions. It is clear from this vote that Siptu does not have a mandate from its members to engage in any further negotiations with the management of Irish Rail which include any pay reductions.”
Siptu members previously balloted in favour of industrial action if savings were unilaterally imposed, but against strike action.
Irish Rail said the latest ballot result was “very much regretted, given the financial crisis the company is experiencing”.
“The savings targeted from these proposals are essential, along with a range of other measures, to prevent Iarnród Éireann from becoming insolvent and to protect our services and the employment of our workforce,” said a spokesman. “The management team will now consider this outcome to decide how best to proceed to address the company’s critical financial situation.”
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