Siptu members reject cost-saving plan at Iarnród Éireann

Move increases chances of strike action by rail workers

Iarnród Éireann last month unilaterally introduced pay cuts for senior management. File Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Iarnród Éireann last month unilaterally introduced pay cuts for senior management. File Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Fri, Jul 11, 2014, 12:52

The largest trade union in Iarnród Éireann has rejected a new cost-saving plan for the company.

The trade union Siptu said its members had voted against the move, which included pay cuts, by 53 per cent to 47 per cent.

The move increases the potential for industrial relations difficulties at the company.

Siptu organiser Paul Cullen said: “Our members have been given the opportunity to democratically express their view on these proposals. It is clear from this ballot result that our members have categorically rejected the acceptance of any further pay reductions.

“It is clear from this vote that Siptu does not have a mandate from its members to engage in any further negotiations with the management of Iarnród Éireann which include any pay reductions.

The latest amended cost-saving plan emerged following direct talks between management and trade unions at the State-owned train company several weeks and was based on an earlier Labour Court recommendation.

Another large union at the company, the National Bus and Rail Union, withdrew from the talks with management. It said it said it would ballot its 500 members at Iarnród Éireann for a mandate for strike action if the company moved to unilaterally impose cuts to the terms and conditions of staff.

Under Labour Court proposals, staff would have faced pay cuts of between 1.7 per cent and 6.1 per cent for 28 months. Following subsequent direct talks between management and unions last month, it was agreed that the duration of the proposed cuts would be reduced to 25 months, subject to additional savings being realised from non-pay areas.

Iarnród Éireann last month unilaterally introduced pay cuts for senior management.

The company has previously warned of an urgent need to secure payroll savings and has indicated that the failure to secure a cost-saving agreement could lead to compulsory redundancies and the closure of railway lines. In recent years it has been by a falling State subvention, reductions in passenger numbers and rising fuel prices.

Siptu has about 2,000 members at the train operating company while the National Bus and Rail Union has about 500.