RAIL commuters face travel chaos on Wednesday, with the first of five nationwide strikes set to go ahead at Irish Rail.
The company have refunded any customers who bought tickets but say they are unable to provide replacement transport options for passengers.
A spokesperson said: “As 155,000 people are affected nationwide it is not possible to provide replacement transport. Customers should make alternative arrangements. Full services will resume on 2nd November. We apologise to customers for the inconvenience caused.”
The rail unions are seeking a flat rate pay increase of 3.75% for staff but Irish Rail says it cannot afford pay increases.
When announcing the strikes, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) said: “The responsibility for this dispute lies squarely with the CEO and his management team at Irish Rail. The treatment meted out to staff over the last number of months, and in particular the debacle which occurred at the WRC last evening, has been nothing short of contemptuous and will make a resolution to this dispute even more difficult, if not now impossible.
“It is an unfortunate consequence that tens of thousands of commuters are now going to be discommoded as a result of the intransigence of Irish Rail.”
National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) general secretary Dermot O’Leary said last night he was pessimistic that “any viable alternative” would emerge today to avert the nationwide industrial action.
He also suggested that it will take a significant intervention to avert the other four planned national rail strike days that are scheduled to take place across November and December, when workers will withdraw their labour and place pickets at train stations and depots.
The stoppage on November 14 coincides with the Republic of Ireland v Denmark World Cup qualifying play-off in Dublin.
The unions have refused to rule out more strike action above and beyond the five days of strikes already announced.
The NBRU is expected to call today for policymakers in the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority to engage in negotiations that could “assist and enable” the company to return to talks.
Unions have also planned industrial action for November 7, 14 and 23 and December 8.