Cork businesses hit out at rail strike following loss of trade due to recent storms

Cork businesses hit out at rail strike following loss of trade due to recent storms
Unions have served strike notice on Iarnród Éireann beginning on November 1. Pic; Larry Cummins

BUSINESS leaders in Cork have blasted the planned strikes by Irish Rail, with the first due to take place next week.

English Market trader Pat O’Connell, who is President of the Cork Business Association, it is frustrating, annoying, expensive and putting pressure on people who have nothing to do with the strike.

“I’m not blaming any party in the dispute but really, they have to get their act together," he said.

“They are a professional company and should be able to resolve their disputes professionally without holding the public and other businesses to ransom. It is just not good enough.” 

 December 8, the final strike day planned, is traditionally one of the busiest pre-Christmas shopping days but Mr O’Connell said each of the planned strikes would have a huge impact on Cork businesses.

“Every day is important for retailers. We are coming out of the worst recession this country ever had, we are fighting to stand still. There is massive pressure on retailers, we don’t need this on top of it.” 

 Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy echoed his concerns.

“We’ve had a number of public transport strikes and it has a very significant impact on business. The bus strike had a major impact and I would be concerned about the impact of a rail strike, both on commuters getting to work and access to services and retail.” 

Mr Healy said it was the last thing businesses needed after suffering the negative effects of last’s week’s weather. 

“It is something we could do without. It was a dreadful week for businesses and communities. Businesses behaved responsibly, ensuring staff in most cases were not expected to travel, businesses understood the severity of the storm but there was an impact.

“For much of last week people didn’t travel, the city centre and towns around the county were quiet. People were dealing with their own issues and weren't getting out and about.

“Having telecommunications out for a period also had an effect on office-type businesses The internet wasn’t available, which many businesses rely on, as well as people who work from home.” 

 Mr O’Connell, who is president of the Cork Business Association, said last week’s extreme weather was “disastrous” for business in the city.

“It was one of those weeks for retail, it was Saturday before things got anyway back to normal. And even then, people were worried about Brian and were afraid to come to the city.” 

 Both Mr O’Connell and Mr Healy paid tribute to the work of the emergency services, the ESB and the County and City Councils and praised their coordinated response to last week’s storms.

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