Rail strike: ‘Nobody wants to be out here’ on the picket line

About 50 commuters arrive at Cork’s Kent Station seeking to board trains that aren’t moving

A pay dispute at Iarnród Éireann, which has halted train services around the country today, could drag on until Christmas and into the New Year, trade unions have warned.

 

The only action at Kent Station in Cork city on Wednesday morning was outside.

Striking Iarnród Éireann staff said they did not want to be on the picket line and that they hoped the dispute over pay would soon be resolved by common sense.

The first of five planned days of industrial acton, which will impact 155,000 people on each occasion, was “frustrating and a last resort measure,” said NBRU national executive member John Forde.

“The pay rise is long overdue. We are forced out here today. We have been flexible and we have been tolerant but there is only so much we can take. All disputes end up going back to the table for resolution and we would urge people to focus and to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible. We have over 100 people out today. Our members are very determined.”

The company will lose out on a day’s revenue, and the workers a day’s pay but it is the rail passengers who are most out out by the strike.

“We don’t like discommoding people and we are really hoping that this can be sorted as quickly as possible,” Forde said. “Nobody wants to be out here. We are very conscious of the travelling public as well that they are being discommoded today and nobody wants to see them discommoded. We have close relationships with the travelling public.”

Alternative arrangement

Many rail passengers in Cork were aware of the strike and had made alternative arrangements but about 50 people had presented at the station by 10.30am looking to catch train without realising they were going nowhere.

An intern on her first day of work experience at a fashion magazine was among those who came to Kent Station expecting to board a train.

German student Leah Haupenthal was planning to travel to Little Island in Co Cork to commence her placement.

“ It should have been highlighted more,” the journalism student said of the strike. “I just checked and there is no bus down so I rely on the train... I don’t have the money for a taxi as I am a broke student, but I will phone a friend for help.”

Also discommoded by the strike was Graham Walsh, who works at a motorcycle shop in Little Island. He said he did not have a problem with those on the picket line outside, and that their stance was “understandable.”

Photographer Piotr Pietrzak was another one of those who showed up to catch a train. He was heading to a shoot in Midleton at 10am.

“I was powering through (the station) but I think it is a taxi now. Its just one of those things I guess but I didn’t know about it so will have to hurry now. Of course it is the day of a shoot.”