Irish Rail and unions will meet at the Workplace Relations Commission today in an attempt to settle a pay dispute that threatens to bring the rail network to a halt through strikes over the October bank holiday weekend,.
Unions went into the WRC previously seeking a 3.75% pay increase without any associated productivity measures.
The company only offered 1.5% accompanied by a number of productivity initiatives.
The unions have said workers, who have not received a pay increase in almost a decade, are no longer prepared to subsidise an underfunded public service in which subvention had been cut by 41% between 2008 and 2013.
The company has said its financial position is extremely challenging and that insolvency is looming if it makes further losses.
Ahead of the meeting between management and unions at the WRC, National Bus and Rail Union general secretary Dermot O’Leary accused Irish Rail of “simply turning up to the State institutions and engaging in a futile exercise of kicking the can down the road”.
He warned Irish Rail that “insisting that an efficiency based pay award is the only show in town will simply not pass muster” for its members, and such an approach “will inevitability lead to widespread disruption to all rail services, inclusive of inter-city, commuter, and Dart within a matter of days”.
Siptu organiser Paul Cullen said: “As always it is only as a last resort that our members will initiate industrial action. However, a ballot by our members in Irish Rail for industrial action is currently under way. The counting of this ballot will go ahead as planned on Friday.”
A spokesperson for Irish Rail said: “We hope we can continue the progress which has been made in our previous engagement at the WRC, albeit we do not underestimate the difficulties ahead. We believe there is a route to better earnings for all colleagues, and hope we have constructive engagement with our trade unions at the WRC.
“Most importantly, we hope that any threat to services for our customers arising from ballots being undertaken by the trade unions can be avoided.”