Second union warns of potential strikes at Iarnród Éireann

Rail company says pay rises unaffordable as it is on verge of insolvency

A second trade union representing staff at Iarnród Éireann has warned of potential strike action on the railways in the weeks ahead.

Siptu criticised "intransigence" on the part of management at the State-owned rail company over a pay claim tabled by staff.

On Tuesday it emerged that Iarnród Éireann had warned the Labour Court in a confidential submission on the pay claim that the company was on the verge of insolvency.

Siptu organiser Paul Cullen said on Wednesday that since 2012 staff in Iarnród Éireann had contributed more than €25 million to the company through savings as well as providing increases in productivity.


“Management has acted irresponsibly in making no provision in its revised five-year plan for the company to meet legitimate requests for some pay adjustments, despite profits being made by its rail operations.”

"Profits from rail operations continue to be spent primarily on infrastructure. This is despite all the ambitious targets set for the rail operations department of the company being exceeded. The position of the company, in its current discussions with unions, of vehemently opposing any improvements for staff is bringing industrial relations in Iarnród Éireann to a new low. This is not just the view of the workers but is also supported by officials in the National Transport Authority and Department of Transport."

Pay rise

Mr Cullen said that staff had not received a pay rise in more than nine years while during the same period they had to endure reductions in their earnings and major changes to their working conditions.

“The stated position of management that it will not consider any pay adjustments and the airing of these views widely in the media has exasperated our members.”

"If management maintains its intransigence position, we could be facing an industrial relations conflict in another CIE company of a similar nature to that experienced recently in Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann," he said.

‘Russian roulette’

On Tuesday that National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) also warned that train passengers could face widespread travel chaos on the country’s railways in the summer and autumn.

It accused the Government and management in Iarnród Éireann of “playing Russian roulette” with transport policy.

Unions at the State train operator are seeking pay rises at least along the lines of the 3.75 per cent increase secured by Dublin Bus workers after a strike last autumn.

However, the company has said pay increases could not be afforded given severe financial difficulties being experienced.

The company had told the Labour Court that it was projecting a further €6 million deficit this year which would leave it about €2 million ahead of insolvency.

The company said it had accumulated losses of €159 million.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent