Iarnród Éireann facing €20 million losses even after pay cuts
Exploratory talks involving unions and management to be held today
The Labour Relations Commission has intervened in the dispute at Iarnród Éireann which saw services hit by a two-day strike last Sunday and Monday.
Iarnród Éireann is facing losses of €20 million even after the implementation of its controversial temporary pay cuts for staff which led to 2-day strike at the company last week.
The details of the projected losses are set out in a confidential internal Department of Transport documents seen by The Irish Times.
Unions at the State-owned rail operator have expressed concern that if they agreed to the current pay reductions, it would not address the financial difficulties in the company and that management would seek further cuts in the future.
The confidential briefing note states: “While the bus companies continue to have challenges to address, the main difficulty for the (CIE ) group is the very high cost of operating rail. As things stand, even if current cost -saving measures, which were the subject of recent ballots, are delivered and after significant voluntary redundancies in recent years, Irish Rail is now projecting losses of over €20 million per annum in its 5-year plan.”
“In addition, Irish Rail has stated that there is a shortfall of available capital funding of €60 million per anum over the next 5 years versus the steady state requirements to maintain the current network.”
The National Bus and Rail Union said its members would have concerns about how the projected €20 million in losses, even after the pay cuts, would be made up.
Iarnród Éireann did not comment on the projected losses set out in the Departent of Transport document.
It has said that the temporary pay cuts were expected to generate savings of €16.9 million over 28 months which they are scheduled to be place.
Meanwhile the Labour Relations Commission yesterday invened in the dispute at the rail company over the temporary pay cuts and invited unions and management to exploratory talks which commence today(SAT).
A further two days of strikes at the rail operator by members of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu are scheduled to take place on September 7th and 8th with another stoppage planned for on September 21st.
The NBRU said that it had accepted the invitation from the take part in the expoloration talks.
The union’s general secretary Dermot O’Leary said: “We understand that this invitation is designed to establish if there is a basis for further discussions around a more comprehensive agenda rather then one which has a disproportionate focus on our members’ wages. We will engage with the commission on this basis. ”
Iarnród Éireann said that it would also be attending the talks at the LRC.
Minster for Transport Paschal Donohoe welcomed the LRC intervention.
“ As I have maintained, the LRC is the appropriate forum in which discussions can, and should, take place, and am hopeful of positive outcome’.
Earlier this week the Minister said that the next intervention inthe dispute would be vital.
About 160,000 passengers were affected by the strike last week which was over a decision by management to implement unilaterally temporary pay cuts of between 1.7 and 6 per cent.