Irish Rail commuters and GAA fans are set to experience major travel disruption in the coming weeks as four days of strikes have been announced by the National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU).
NBRU workers at Irish Rail are to hold two days of stoppages this month and two work stoppages next month over the implementation of pay cuts .
The 48-hour work stoppage will begin on Sunday August 24th, the union announced after a ballot for action was passed was by 80 per cent of voting members . This will be followed by two 24-hour work stoppages on Sunday September 7th and Sunday September 21st, the union said.
Next month’s two stoppages coincide with the All-Ireland Hurling Final and the All Ireland-Football Final fixtures. While numbers due to travel depend on the finalists tens of thousands of fans are likely affected for each match.
This month’s 48-hour stoppage begins on August 24th, the day Iarnród Éireann is to introduce cuts. It coincides with a one day strike already announced by Siptu for August 25th. This is also the same day many schools reopen after the summer break.
If industrial action goes ahead, Irish Rail said it will not be in a position to provide alternative transport “given the scale of disruption” across services.
The cost saving measures involve a temporary reduction in basic pay ranging from 1.7 per cent for staff earning €56,000 or less (74 per cent of the workforce) up to 6.1 per cent for those earning over €100,000.
Members have rejected three proposals to reduce pay and “will not subsidise their own jobs”, general secretary of the NBRU Dermot O’Leary said in a statement.
Mr O’Leary said cuts in Government subventions to 1998 levels was “not tenable” and members firmly rejected the expectation that they would “buy a pig in a poke”. The company was “very much in control” of the situation and the union “don’t want at all to shut any services down”, he said.
He also said the Sunday dates in September were not chosen due to matches but to try to minimise the impact on the commuting public, schools and college students.
Iarnród Éireann said it regretted the threats of action. “I would urge all colleagues and our trade unions not to undertake any action which disrupts services, worsens our financial situation and puts all our employees at risk,” company chief executive David Franks said.
Cuts were described by the Labour Court as “unavoidable” to protect its future and the company had no option but to implement them , he said. The company lost €16.3m last year.
Mr Franks said unions had been given access to financial data and accepted the company “faces insolvency ” without action. As payroll is over 60 per cent of costs it cannot correct finances without a contribution from this area, he said.
Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe last month described proposed strikes as “disappointing” and encouraged all employees to “reflect very carefully on the implications ”. The Department of Transport had no further comment to make on the matter today.
A GAA spokeswoman said the company had no comment to make on the proposed action.