Strikes on railways on the way over pay, NBRU chief forecasts

Union threatens strike ballot if no ‘credible’ pay offer made by Wednesday

Rail passengers could face disruption due to strike action next month.

Rail passengers could face disruption due to strike action next month.

 

There will be a strike on the country’s railways in the weeks ahead over pay, the general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has forecast.

Dermot O’Leary said the NBRU would ballot its members at Iarnród Éireann for strike action from next Wednesday if the company did not table “credible” pay proposals before then.

He said a ballot would take up to 10 days to complete, leaving open the prospect of industrial action by mid-October, given the requirement to provide seven days notice in advance of any action.

Mr O’Leary also warned delegates at his union’s biennial conference on Friday there could be further industrial action at Bus Éireann by the end of next month. The company experienced a three-week stoppage earlier this year.

He also signalled there would be “catastrophic consequences” across the public transport network if there was any move to impose changes to pension arrangements for staff in the three CIÉ companies without agreement.

Mr O’Leary said his union would attend talks at the Workplace Relations Commission next Wednesday on the pay claim at Iarnród Éireann, but he indicated that he did not hold out much hope of success.

NBRU representative for DART workers Joe Nolan told the conference that the “dogs in the street knew there was going to be a strike”.

Unions representing staff at the State-owned rail operator are seeking pay rises of about 3.75 per annum – similar to the level of increases secured by staff at Dublin Bus and Luas after strikes in those companies last year.

On notice

Mr O’Leary said: “We have, in advance of next week’s discussions, put the company on notice that we will not entertain any further prevarications, obfuscation or downright stonewalling. We have had enough.”

Mr O’Leary said unless a tangible offer was made and something substantial placed on the table, his union would not take the issue to the Labour Court.

“The only alternative open to us at this juncture will be to undertake an immediate ballot for industrial action across our railways. Mr O’Leary said industrial relations at Iarnród Éireann were at an all-time low.

He said the human resources department at the company had been “gagged” and that the chief executive “is determined, it would appear, to force his own staff out on to the streets”.

Mr O’Leary warned of a “standoff” at Bus Éireann regarding the implementation of a Labour Court recommendation that had led to the resolution of the strike at the company earlier this year, particularly in relation to rosters.

Industrial action

He said the NBRU advised management this standoff could “result in more industrial action at the company by the end of October”.

Bus Éireann said on Friday said it would meet the NBRU next week over its concerns regarding new rosters but that these had to be implemented to reduce costs.

Mr O’Leary said there were major issues surrounding the two pension schemes in place for staff working in the CIÉ group of companies.

“The issues of pensions runs across the CIE companies. Any imposition of changes, without agreement, will be met with a cross-company response. This would have catastrophic consequences for the entire transport network.”

The rail company argued in a recent submission to the Labour Court that any increases not funded by further productivity measures would have a “catastrophic impact “ on its financial position.