Train drivers set to back all-out strike ahead of Labour Court hearing

Unions in dispute with Iarnród Éireann over mentoring of new drivers

Heuston Train Station in Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

Heuston Train Station in Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Train drivers at Irish Rail are expected to vote for strike action in ballots to be completed on Wednesday.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu, which represent the 500 drivers at the company have balloted their members for all-out strike action in a dispute over the mentoring of new driving staff.

However any strike action at the State-owned rail operator is unlikely to commence ahead of a Labour Court hearing on the issue to be held towards the end of March.

Train drivers overwhelmingly rejected a deal in January which would have seen them receive a 1.15 per cent pay rise for past productivity in return for co-operation in mentoring about 30 new drivers. Up to now, mentoring has been viewed as a voluntary arrangement.

However, management at Iarnród Éireann told staff last month that from January 25th, it would pay the 1.15 per cent rise for past productivity in addition to a recently-agreed general pay increase of 2.5 per cent, which is being paid to all staff.

Management also said that from that time, it would amend drivers’ terms and conditions “to reflect the fact that the mentoring of trainee drivers is a requirement of the role of train drivers, eliminating any suggestion that this task is voluntary in nature”.

The company said that when undertaking a mentoring arrangement, drivers would be paid an allowance of €31 per day - an increase of 35 per cent on the existing rate of €23.

The company maintained that the new drivers were required to facilitate plans for a 10-minute frequency Dart service and the expansion of commuter services.

Unions had been critical of the outgoing CEO David Franks in their decision to ballot members for strike action on the mentoring dispute. However Mr Franks is to leave the company shortly to take up a new post in Australia.