One of the main unions involved in the Irish Rail pay dispute has published a pamphlet mocking Minister for Transport Shane Ross and describing the National Transport Authority (NTA) as "the HSE on wheels".
The tongue-in-cheek missive from the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) gives a fictitious account of an Irish Rail worker conversing with a member of the public about the ongoing pay disagreement between the company and its employees, which led to the announcement of five days of strike action.
The eight-page pamphlet distributed across trains on Monday morning describes the Minister in such terms as "Ross the Boss" and "Rocket Ross", the latter in relation to his planned diplomacy trip to North Korea with Independent Alliance colleagues.
It makes reference to Mr Ross' role in last year's Rio Olympics ticketing controversy, saying Pat Hickey "ate Shane for breakfast", and describes him as a former "populist scribbler" and "Champion of the People" in his former guise as a Sunday Independent columnist.
The NBRU's ire is not just reserved for the Minister for Transport, as fellow Independent Alliance Minister John Halligan is likened to Groucho Marx and the NTA is referred to as "the HSE on wheels".
The pamphlet accuses the NTA of being “full of contradictions” in regards to its role in ensuring the provision of public transport services, and says it has “all the authority but no responsibility” when it comes to resolving the dispute.
Also in line for lampooning are "the privateers in the Blue Shirts", a derogatory term for Fine Gael members, and Irish Rail chief executive David Franks with wise cracks about a fishing trip to Enniskillen which was attended by the company's top brass.
The satirical publication carries a more serious undertone, with veiled threats about the mooted ramping-up of industrial action.
In a passage about the possibility of strikes escalating over the Christmas period, such a course of action is portrayed as “the nuclear option”, and is followed by the line: “but then again, us workers are determined to stand firm”.
On the prospect of a one-year pay deal being reached, it adds that "the carry-on of the CEO [ Franks] has further eroded the little bit of trust that was left" and says a three-year deal of the nature secured by Dublin Bus employees last year may now be required.
The Department of Transport and NTA have been contacted for comment on the contents of the pamphlet.