Talks between Irish Rail and railway unions break down

SIPTU and NBRU members at Irish Rail will now be balloted for industrial action

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Updated: 22.00pm

Talks between Irish Rail and unions representing drivers at the Workplace Relations Committee have collapsed. 

SIPTU and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) had previously warned of potential industrial action unless the company agreed to bring drivers' working week in line with their counterparts in the UK.

Irish Rail said this afternoon that it had committed to addressing issues highlighted in a report drawn up by the Labour Court around productivity, working conditions and hours.

"This would be done – as set out in our industrial relations agreements – while normal business continues," a spokesperson said.

"This normal business includes removing the non-cooperation with the completion of the current driver training class of nine trainees, who are just three months from the end of training.

"Regrettably, SIPTU and NBRU refused to commit to this, resulting in the talks breaking down."

SIPTU and NBRU members at Irish Rail will now be balloted for industrial action.

In a joint statement this evening, the unions said the decision to ballot drivers was made after Irish Rail management refused to engage in a talks process recommended by the Labour Court.

“It is nothing short of appalling that a semi-state company, tasked with providing a public transport service can flagrantly flout the recognised industrial relations procedures of the state.

"That a taxpayer funded transport service would treat its own workforce in such a disgraceful manner and expose the travelling public to a potential scenario whereby train services will come under threat is contemptible.

“It should be clearly understood that both unions were, and remain, prepared to immediately discuss the issue of driver training to the point where we could hopefully reach agreement while simultaneously discussing all of the issues contained in the report.

"We will now immediately move to ballot our members for industrial action in response to the company's point blank refusal to engage around the agenda previously agreed by both parties.”