Rail agreement safe, says report


Safety has not been prejudiced in the current working practices agreed between management and unions at Iarnrod Eireann, according to an investigation into last summer's dispute between the company and the Irish Locomotive Drivers' Association. The report on the dispute, compiled jointly by the Labour Court and the Labour Relations Commission, said a central contention of the ILDA was that "work practices introduced by the New Deal arrangements" were operationally unsafe - and this belief was supported by independent expert advice.

Iarnrod Eireann, the recognised unions and the individual drivers who made submissions to the investigation had strongly rejected this contention, it noted. An independent report on safety aspects of the agreement was commissioned from the London-based consultants, Sedgwick Wharf.

The Sedgwick Wharf study concluded there was no increase in risks from:

later hours of shifts;

high weekly hours - up to 70;

long runs of consecutive shifts without a break - up to 14;

short daily rest intervals;

high average weekly hours.

Night-time risks were also lower.

Iarnrod Eireann last night welcomed the findings of the Labour Court/LRC report. It noted that Sedgwick Wharf had stipulated that the New Deal "introduces no new unacceptable risks" and "offers safety benefits, in particular by eliminating very long shifts". The ILDA also welcomed publication of the report, but said there were still some elements that required further evaluation.