VIDEO: Rail strike could cost firm €500k

Irish Rail will begin to fully assess the cost of yesterday’s work stoppage on its network, with early indications pointing to a cost of up to €500,000.

There are fears costs will escalate further if a second work stoppage goes ahead on Friday week.

The three-hour work stoppage from 6am yesterday brought the rail network to a halt at the start of the October bank holiday, one of the busiest weekends of the year, affecting the journeys of an estimated 40,000 passengers.

An Irish Rail spokesman said the company would review the loss of earnings that were a direct result of the work stoppage, the knock-on effects to services afterwards and the potential loss of earnings throughout the day as some people decided against using the rail network.

The company estimated the losses at €500,000. But the spokesman said the timing of the next proposed work stoppage, November 6, was likely to affect a higher number of regular commuters than was the case yesterday. Many people may already plan in advance to take a day off work. In that case, the company expects the losses could be even higher.

“We are in a difficult position,” the spokesman said, adding the company felt it had made a “significant” offer. It was claimed driver earnings would have increased by up to 7.9% by January 2018, but the offer was rejected by unions.

The National Transport Authority said it was not in a position, immediately, to calculate the public service subvention payment which would be withheld from Irish Rail due to the work stoppage.

While Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said the work stoppage had been a blow to the company, Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) said Irish Rail had failed to properly address outstanding issues over past productivity.

Siptu said it was time for Iarnród Éireann to engage constructively in talks. Union organiser Paul Cullen said: “It is unfortunate that train divers were left with no option but to undertake industrial action due to the failure of the company to engage in genuine negotiations on its previous commitment to workers in relation to past productivity.

“During talks between workers’ representatives and management over recent dayunions have engaged in a manner aimed at reaching a just resolution to this dispute. However, a similar approach was not evident on the management side.

“The confrontational attitude adopted by management is part of a wider deterioration in its approach to industrial relations over recent months.”

Mr Cullen said unless there was a “real change” in Irish Rail’s approach, further industrial action was inevitable.

“A threat by management to offset what it claims was the cost the company incurred from today’s industrial action from any proposal it intends to present is not constructive to finding a settlement. This threat should be withdrawn.”


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