Rail drivers 'to return to work from tomorrow'

 

Iarnród Éireann train drivers in Cork have agreed to return to work from tomorrow morning following a meeting in the city this afternoon.

Seventeen Intercity trains were cancelled today as a result of an unofficial action which centres around flexible working arrangements at the Cork station.

Following today's meeting, the drivers decided to return to work on the basis that they would work in accordance with current agreements to include the flexibilities as referenced under the Labour Relations Commission proposal of March this year.

A statement issued by the drivers this afternoon blamed the company for the dispute. Reiterating their support for a colleague who was removed from the payroll on Thursday, the drivers claimed the company had acted arbitrarily and did not invoke agreed procedures to deal with such matters.

However, the drivers said they would return to work: "on the basis that the maintenance of the current impasse would only serve to further discommode the travelling public."

A spokesman for Iarnród Éireann said that the company hoped the drivers‘ statement meant what it purported to mean. He said that the company was adopting a cautious approach at this stage and would have to await developments in the morning.

The spokesman said that the company wanted the drivers to return to work on the basis of full flexibility within their shifts and co-operate with the training of new staff, as set out in agreements.

He said that the company would not accept a situation whereby drivers sought to pick and choose which trains to operate within their shifts.

The company urged all passengers intending to travel in the Cork and Kerry area in the morning to be caution and check the company website for running services.

Iarnród Éireann says it has "patiently endeavoured to resolve these issues" by engaging in the agreed industrial relations machinery of the company, and the State.

Train drivers submitted proposals to Iarnród Éireann on Friday for a return to work but were rejected by the company. The company claimed the proposals were offering a return to work with conditions, which they said was unacceptable.

Meanwhile, it was claimed that Siptu drivers not involved in the dispute presented themselves for work this morning but were prevented from driving their rostered trains by the company. The services included the early morning services to Cobh and Dublin.

“The disruption to services was avoidable but management decided to let it happen,” union Branch Organiser Jackie Pearson said.

However, a spokesman for the company said the drivers had been asked if they were prepared to work under the full terms of the existing agreement. He said it was clear from their response that they were not, and that the company needed drivers to work to the agreement uner which they were paid. "Flexibility does arise, it's part of the agreement," he said.