Unions at Iarnród Éireann are set to ballot for strike action after talks regarding a pay increase with the Workplace Relations Commission broke down without agreement yesterday evening.
The development raises the possibility of disruption for thousands of commuters, which could occur in as little as three weeks.
Members of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) are angry at Irish Rail’s attitude towards its staff in refusing to offer a meaningful pay rise after a decade long pay freeze.
General Secretary Dermot O'Leary spoke of his disappointed at Irish Rail's failure to offer a meaningful rise in its workers salaries:
After a decade long pay hiatus, the expectation of a long overdue pay rise for Irish Rail staff has not materialised. Our members have looked at colleagues in the Public Transport Sector enjoying pay increases of up to 3.75%, while Irish Rail is thumbing its nose at its own Staff by making a pitiful offer, at a time when passenger numbers and revenue at Irish Rail are at a historical high, is contemptuous to say the least. Sadly the senior Management at the State Company have little or no regard for their workers.
It has been speculated that Irish Rail did offer its workers offered a pay increase for staff of 1.5% but that the increase was conditional on unions accepting outsourcing, forced redeployment, an increment freeze, line closures, and a reduction in contracted hours.
These developments come with the news that Bus Éireann have had to cancel a number of buses due to 'absenteeism'.
Bus Éireann said the level of absenteeism had doubled in the last year, leading to staff shortages. It said it had to cancel 16 services on its eastern corridor on Monday and seven on Tuesday, mainly affecting the Dublin/Meath and Dublin/Kildare routes.
The absenteeism is thought to be a reaction to the rosters being handed out to its members and the NBRU has predicted strike action should Bus Éireann not engage with them on the matter:
"The boards (rosters), albeit temporary, introduced at Broadstone on Sunday last are an insult," said Dermot O'Leary in a letter to Bus Éireann chief executive Ray Hernan.
They are downright shoddy. They do not remotely resemble any schedule we have ever seen, and, believe me, we have seen some appalling anti-staff rosters in our time. There is now an immediate requirement for the company to engage with the trade unions on all aspects of board/roster compilation. The alternative is a major flashpoint/standoff on October 29.
It is understood that October 29 is a company deadline to begin the rollout of permanent rosters.