UNIONS are warning there could be further escalation of transport strikes before Christmas, if the concerns of Irish Rail workers are not addressed.
Up to 150,000 commuters are dealing with a second day of disruption today, with no rail service available and picketing taking place at Kent Station and around the country.
SIPTU said that today’s strike is the result of a failure by management and the Government to seek a resolution to the dispute.
SIPTU TEAC Organiser, Greg Ennis, said: “There has been no initiative taken by either the management of Irish Rail or the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, in seeking to find a solution to this dispute.
“Our members do not wish to be returning to the picket lines but they have been left with no alternative. They remain resolute and strong in their belief that it is only by conducting industrial action that their concerns about the future of the company and the failure of staff to receive a pay rise in 10 years will be adequately highlighted.” SIPTU also warned that there could be further escalation before Christmas.
“It is time for the Minister for Transport to accept his responsibilities and commence a process involving all the stakeholders,” Mr Ennis said. “If he continues to sit on his hands and do nothing the current dispute will worsen, with three more days of industrial action already scheduled with a further escalation in the lead up to Christmas an unfortunate but very real possibility.” If the impasse is not resolved there are further actions planned for Tuesday November 14, the day of Ireland’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Denmark in Dublin, Thursday November 23 and Friday December 8.
Business groups have voiced their fears about the impact on economic activity in the build-up to Christmas and student groups are also warning of disastrous consequences.
“Next month we will be looking at exam season,” said Michelle Byrne, USI Vice President for the Southern Region. “Exams take place on Fridays and even Saturdays and people may not be able to get deferrals. It could end up being an absolute disaster, with people failing exams they can’t attend because of a lack of public transport.
“Plus on Fridays in particular students will be going home to the part-time work that is keeping them in college.” Ms Byrne said the USI are in full support of the workers and said it was up to the management and the Government to ‘step up to the plate’.
“It is a reasonable pay claim and needs to be resolved as soon as possible. We would be in favour of Shane Ross stepping in, we would like to see him help to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”