Siptu warns of dispute looming at Iarnród Éireann

Railway firm says mooted pay rise request of 3.75% would have ‘catastrophic impact’

The National Bus and Rail Union said staff were “frankly sick to the back teeth of listening to the jaded, ‘we have no money’ line from management”.  Photograph: Eddie Kelly

The National Bus and Rail Union said staff were “frankly sick to the back teeth of listening to the jaded, ‘we have no money’ line from management”. Photograph: Eddie Kelly

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The trade union Siptu has warned that an industrial dispute on the railways is looking increasingly likely.

It urged all parties involved in forthcoming talks on pay to “act reasonably” to avoid another dispute in the transport sector.

Siptu indicated staff at Iarnród Éireann were seeking pay increases along the lines of 3.75 per cent annually secured by other workers in the transport sector.

It also rejected any move by management at the State-owned rail operator to link pay rises to additional productivity.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) said staff were “frankly sick to the back teeth of listening to the jaded, ‘we have no money’ line from management”.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said Iarnród Éireann workers had had to put up with no pay rises for over nine years.

“Whilst one could reluctantly accept that this country was in the economic mire for a number of years, the fact is now that Iarnrod Éireann has passed Celtic Tiger levels in terms of revenue.”

Productivity measures

Iarnród Éireann told the Labour Court recently that any increases not funded by further productivity measures would have a “catastrophic impact” on its financial position. It said it had accumulated losses of €159 million since 2007.

Talks on a pay claim for staff at the rail company are due to commence shortly at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Siptu organiser Paul Cullen said management had sought to link pay rises for his members with further increases in productivity and such an approach was “completely unacceptable”. He said train staff had not received a pay rise since 2008.

“During the period 2008 to 2013, staff costs in Irish Rail have been reduced in real terms by nearly €36 million.

“All staff are now seeking pay increases which are in line with their colleagues in Dublin Bus, Luas and other transport companies.”

Mr Cullen contended that profits being generated at the rail company were “being spent at the behest of the National Transport Authority (NTA) on various projects”.

“Our members are witnessing such spending on increased consultancy and other external employment in managerial roles.”

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