For a number of months Iarnród Éireann management has been trying to secure agreement on €4.7m in cuts to the staff wage bill as part of €8.5m in overall savings which, it says, are essential for its financial solvency as well as for the protection of customer services and the security of its workforce’s employment.
After talks last week, another driver union, the National Bus and Rail Union, withdrew from the process and announced it would ballot for strikes if the cuts were unilaterally imposed.
However, following a meeting yesterday, Siptu sector organiser Willie Noone said the proposals which emerged from last week “include definitive clarity on exchequer subvention for the rail service for the next three years and a guarantee that the company will not seek further pay reductions or changes to conditions of employment during that time”.
“The timeframe for pay cuts has been reduced to 25 months and €1.2m that was previously earmarked to come from payroll cuts are now to be obtained from non-payroll areas,” he said. “Commitments have also been given by the company to address outstanding and unfulfilled trade union pay agreements.”
The union said it was putting the proposals to a ballot, to take place from June 19 to July 6.
Meanwhile, Siptu members yesterday began strike action at Roadstone Woods facilities across the country in a dispute over what the union said is an attempt by management to implement major cuts to workers’ wages. Siptu said pickets were placed on about 20 locations and would continue “until a fair resolution of the dispute is achieved”.
“Over the last number of months, both Siptu and the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) have engaged in negotiations with the management of Roadstone Woods Ltd in relation to cost reductions,” said Siptu organiser Davy Lane. “Management wish to reduce the payroll cost by €10m over the next five years and this follows a cut of €6m in payroll costs in 2012. Due to the unrealistic demands of management these talks broke down at the weekend.” Mr Lane said the board of Cement Roadstone Holdings was setting cost reduction targets for its companies which, he said, were inflicting financial hardship on workers. “The pay cut which is currently being proposed by management would take €20,000 from the lowest paid workers over the next five years,” he said. “Our members could not sustain such a loss against a background of the increasing costs of indirect taxation, hence their decision to embark on strike action. “There is no realism in the approach of the management of CRH in trying to attain this massive cut in payroll costs. Union representatives are prepared to engage with the company in realistic and meaningful negotiations when it indicates it is willing to do so.”
A spokesman for Roadstone Wood said the company was not commenting at this stage.