Unions at Irish Rail have warned of possible industrial action by train drivers in the autumn amid anger over extra responsibilities they say are being heaped on them without any reward.
Both Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) say they are under pressure from members to ballot for industrial action and will do so within weeks if Irish Rail does not address their concerns.
All intercity, commuter, and Dart trains would likely be affected by any action as all 550 of the country’s train drivers would be balloted.
NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said drivers felt they were not respected by Irish Rail and he had told the company’s CEO David Franks as much less than a fortnight ago.
“I advised him that there was a deep sense of malaise and anger among drivers and if something wasn’t done about it, things would come to a head,” he said.
“The drivers’ status has diminished while their responsibilities have increased and they’re tired of it.”
He said one issue that had angered drivers was that they were now often the only crew member on a train, expected to both drive and deal with any issues that arose for passengers on board.
Drivers had also taken on additional safety related duties, with extra data being handled and extra logs being maintained, and this had not been recognised by the company, he added.
This had all happened after the drivers had taken a pay cut, which is due to remain in place for another year, and in the absence of progress on negotiations over how their increased productivity should be rewarded, he said.
Siptu organiser Paul Cullen said a document on productivity presented by the company following talks at the Labour Relations Commission had been rejected, but there had been no response to the unions’ alternative proposal.
Irish Rail said it was continuing to engage in the Labour Relations Commission process and would share the benefits of increased productivity if it produced verifiable savings.
“There is no basis for industrial action,” spokesman Barry Kenny said.
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