Today's strike action has been called off

Unions have warned there may be some delays as train drivers arrive to work
Unions have warned there may be some delays as train drivers arrive to work

THIS morning's planned rail strike has been dramatically called off after marathon discussions between workers and Irish Rail management which lasted until the early hours of today.

After almost 18 hours of tense negotiations, trade unions Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) confirmed shortly after 4am that they were instructing their members that today’s planned rush hour work stoppage was being called off.

Irish Rail has confirmed full rail services will operate around the country and a spokesperson for the company said they believe “the level of disruption will be of the most minimal nature”.

However, unions have warned there may be some delays as train drivers arrive to work.

Irish Rail also advised customers that their journey planner, realtime info on their website and app are currently not updating.

This decision to cancel today’s strike, which was due to go ahead between 6am and 9am, came from the workers representatives at the request of the negotiators in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

The cancellation of the strike came as a surprise as the unions had warned in the early hours that the strike was likely to go ahead.

However, shortly after 4am they confirmed that two outstanding issues had officially been referred to the Labour Court “for a hearing at the earliest opportunity”.

These “fundamental issues” relate specifically to the “working week” and “past productivity”, Dermot O’Leary from the NBRU said.

“At this stage our agenda items, and our agenda items only, would exclusively be referred to the Labour Court for decision.  And on that basis, in deference to the WRC, they have asked that procedurally we would call off our industrial action,” he said earlier this morning.

“The demands from the company in terms of marrying our agenda and their agenda were just not acceptable.”

Ciaran Masterson, the Director of Human Resources with Irish Rail, said they were pleased that the trade unions had called off the work stoppage.

“Regrettably it is at a very late hour, however we are pleased to say we will be in a position to provide a service to most of our customers this morning,” Mr Masterson said.

“We have had a protracted set of negotiations and discussions, we have aired a lot of issues and we have heard and understood the positions expressed by the trade unions. 

“But we are pleased to say the key issues will now go to the Labour Court for recommendation with the possibility to bring the matter to an amicable conclusion to all parties.”

Irish Rail chief executive David Franks last week wrote to staff warning that their demands, about past productivity measures, have become “unaffordable”.

He said the two unions involved had created “false expectations”, following their decision to seek a reduced working week and changes to productivity.

Irish Rail believes their proposals for productivity will see earnings increase for some workers by up to 7.9pc, as well as the availability of a voluntary severance package.

However, unions are seeking for the working week to be reduced to bring it in line with their counterparts in other jurisdictions like Northern Ireland and the UK.

Emma Jane Hade