Unions at Iarnród Éireann have warned that strike action is now inevitable unless management tables a credible pay offer for staff.
Arriving for talks at the Workplace Relations Commission, SIPTU Divisional Organiser Greg Ennis said that if no credible offer were tabled, today's negotiations will come to a shuddering halt - writes rte.ie.
He said there was already a clamour for a ballot for strike action among his union's 2,000 members, who were no longer prepared to subsidise the company to compensate for government underfunding.
He noted that staff in Luas and Dublin Bus had secured increases of around 3.75% per year and that Iarnród Éireann personnel needed to get at least that.
He also noted that staff had not had an increase for almost 10 years, despite delivering savings up of up to €36 million.
Mr Ellis said today was the day for the Minister for Transport and his department to decide if they wanted conflict or resolution.
He said that up to 2013 the CIE companies had lost 41% of their subvention and had never recovered from that.
He said it was now inevitable that unless something happened today, there would be a strike at Iarnród Éireann - so the unions’ argument was ultimately with the Government and its policy regarding funding of the national transport service.
National Bus and Rail Union General Secretary Dermot O'Leary accused Iarnród Éireann of prevaricating and obstructing staff in seeking a long overdue pay rise, adding that staff were "sick to the back teeth" of listening to the company preaching the poor mouth.
He said that with record passenger numbers, and pay rises across a buoyant economy, the company was in good health.
Mr O’Leary said that unless something dramatically changed at today’s talks, unions were heading to the picket lines in the next number of weeks, and that people across the country and those in large urban areas in particular would be severely discommoded.
However, Iarnród Éireann Director of Human Resources Ciaran Masterson warned that the company had to have regard to the fact that it is carrying accumulated debts of €160 million,and must be conscious that anything it does in relation to staff will affect that directly.
He said he believed that Iarnród Éireann as an organisation is changing and must continue to change, and that at today's negotiations they can put a shape and a framework around that change to meet the aspirations of staff and the general public.
Mr Masterson said he believed today's talks would give unions a credible option to consider.
Asked whether there was any prospect of a "no strings" pay rise without links to productivity, he said it had to be remembered that the company was operating in the context of a €160 million debt, adding that they would negotiate as appropriate.
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