Strike threat grows at Irish Rail in row over mentoring

Rail operator to make training new drivers compulsory in return for pay rise

Train drivers overwhelmingly rejected a deal earlier this week which would have seen them receive a special 1.15 per cent pay rise for past productivity. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

Train drivers overwhelmingly rejected a deal earlier this week which would have seen them receive a special 1.15 per cent pay rise for past productivity. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

 

The prospect of further industrial relations trouble on the State’s railways has increased after management at Irish Rail indicated that it would require train drivers to mentor new staff on a compulsory basis in the future.

Train drivers overwhelmingly rejected a deal earlier this week which would have seen them receive a special 1.15 per cent pay rise for past productivity in return for co-operation in mentoring about 30 new drivers.

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

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu which represent drivers had warned that any move by the company to try to force drivers to carry out such duties could lead to further industrial action. Up to now mentoring has been viewed as a voluntary arrangement.

In a letter to unions on Friday management at Irish Rail said 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.

“Consequent on the 1.15 per cent increase drivers’ terms and conditions will be amended 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 mentoring arrangement, drivers would be paid an allowance of €31 per day – an increase of 35 per cent on the existing rate of €23.

Passengers at Irish Rail experienced two 24-hour strikes before Christmas as part of a dispute over pay.