Rail passengers face bank holiday disruptions

Services to come to halt for three hours on October as part of industrial action by drivers

Train drivers have already voted for industrial action. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Train drivers have already voted for industrial action. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

With thousands of train passengers set to face disruption as a result of strike action in the weeks ahead, the prospect of industrial action has also emerged at Dublin Bus.

Train drivers who are members of Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) are to stage two work stoppages for 3 hours on Friday October 23rd and Friday November 6th.

This will bring to a halt all Dart, commuter and inter-city services on both days from 6.00 am to 9.00 am.

However Iarnród Éireann has indicated there could be further knock-on disruption as a result of some trains and crews being out of position for later services. Siptu warned there could be further industrial action affecting train services at a later date.

In a separate development the NBRU has warned of potential industrial action at Dublin Bus in a dispute over pay.

The NBRU said Dublin Bus had told it in recent days that a pay increase for staff which it is seeking would have to be funded through productivity measures.

The NBRU told members in a bulletin that it had “responded by telling the company that this position was simply not tenable and advised management that such a scenario would have inevitable consequences with regards to industrial action”.

The industrial action at Iarnród Éireann centres around a row over payment for past productivity by train drivers.

The unions have contended that an agreement they reached with management at the rail company last year on temporary pay cuts had contained a clause allowing them to pursue payments for previous productivity such as drivers taking on additional responsibilities and operating new routes.

The unions argue that management refused to engage on this issue of past productivity when they met at the Labour Relations Commission last month.

Iarnród Éireann has said it will engage with drivers on future productivity and is prepared to share the benefits with drivers. However it said it cannot afford to pay for concessions dating back 15 years in some casts at a time when it is losing €1 million per month.

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said: “News that rail services are to be disrupted, with a negative impact once again on the travelling public, is very disappointing. The issues at the heart of this dispute are ones that should be resolved through the industrial relations machinery that is available and best placed to mediate in such matters.”

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said it was unfortunate that an arbitrary decision by management at the company to ignore a Labour Relations Commission -brokered agreement to discuss previous productivity contributions by drivers had led to a situation where the travelling public would be discommoded”

“Forcing staff into a scenario whereby they feel they have no other option but to take industrial action is no way to practice employee relations”.

Siptu assistant organiser Paul Cullen said the planned measures to be taken by train drivers were “minimal” but the union could not rule out further industrial action depending on the response of the company.

Iarnród Éireann said the planned work stoppages would damage customer demand, customer confidence, the finances of the company and ultimately the interests of all employees.

“As we have stated consistently, we remain available to engage with our trade unions on productivity claims, with the assistance of the industrial relations machinery of the state. We want to identify productivity measures which will yield benefits to be shared between the company and employees, and it is only dialogue - not disruption - which will resolve this issue.”

“In this context, we would urge a withdrawal of the notice of industrial action and a resumption of negotiations. This would ensure we serve our customers and avoid losing hard-fought business gains at the busiest travel time of the year for commuters, business and leisure travellers.”