Irish Rail loses out as hurling fans book the bus

Irish Rail will suffer yet another significant financial loss this weekend if talks on staff pay cuts do not quickly yield a solution which averts the upcoming strike action.

Tipperary and Kilkenny hurling fans, who would normally have flocked onto the trains in their thousands for this Sunday’s All-Ireland final, are already making other arrangements to get to the match, just in case the talks between Irish Rail and its unions fail.

Seán Nugent, chairman of the Tipperary County Board, said private bus companies are already arranging services to Dublin and advertising to fans on the local radio stations.

“There is a huge tradition of CIÉ bringing fans to All-Ireland finals,” he said. “We would be hopeful and it would be tremendous if the dispute can be resolved, but the thing is, at this stage fans need to plan and make alternative arrangements and so buses will soon be booked up.”

His counterpart in Kilkenny, Ned Quinn, said bus companies were also being lined up to get fans to the match.

“People will make sure they get to Croke Park,” he said.

Talks were continuing at the Labour Relations Commission last night to try to find a solution to the dispute between Irish Rail management and two driver unions, Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union.

Unions have said they will not call off the strike unless temporary pay cuts ranging from 1.7% for staff earning up to €56,000 and up to 6.1% for those earning more than €100,000, are reversed. Those cuts were implemented without worker agreement more than a week ago.

The unions have also said the Government should play a role in helping the company’s finances through its subvention payments.

Speaking at the signing of contracts at the Luas Cross City office in Dublin yesterday, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said: “I always emphasised that it is my intention to commence negotiations in relation to next year’s budget by proposing no further cut next year in subvention to Irish Rail. I really welcome the fact that discussions have begun in the LRC. I have stressed that this is the appropriate and necessary forum within which these discussions take place and a successful outcome to these discussions is vital to the future of Irish Rail.”

However, he added that Irish Rail was an organisation in which 60% of the total costs were in relation to payroll.

“That is why achieving these savings are a vital contribution to the future of Irish Rail,” he said. “The strikes that have already taken place cost the organisation €1.5m in lost revenue. The continuation of strikes would have a further negative effect on the company.”

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