NBRU ar­gues its case with eight pages of con­vo­luted drivel

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - OPINION - Fr Michael Com­mane

It’s a re­lief that the rail stop­pages have been sus­pended. I can re­mem­ber when Tom Darby set up the Na­tional Bus­men’s Union in 1963, which later ex­panded to in­clude rail work­ers and is now the Na­tional Bus and Rail Union (NBRU). Over the years I have got to know a num­ber of lo­co­mo­tive driv­ers. There is a long and proud his­tory in Ire­land of the men, and now women, who drive our trains. In the days of steam they did tough and dirty jobs. Train driv­ers work hard. Today their jobs are cleaner and the con­di­tions have much im­proved.

Maybe be­cause I’m a bit of a rail anorak, I’m in­clined to think that there is a no­bil­ity about a lo­co­mo­tive driver. Some­times the wars that are waged be­tween the driv­ers’ unions and the com­pany give the im­pres­sion that HR is not Ir­ish Rail’s strong­est qual­ity. As an out­sider look­ing in, one can’t help but guess that there is far too much ‘them ver­sus us’ at Ir­ish Rail.

On Mon­day, Novem­ber 6 on a re­turn ser­vice from Con­nolly to Dun­boyne I found my­self los­ing some of my sym­pa­thy for the NBRU. Ly­ing on a seat was an eight-page leaflet, ti­tled: ‘An­other 24 Hours of Rail Strikes’. It is an at­tempt by the NBRU to ex­plain their case to the trav­el­ling pub­lic.

It’s in the for­mat of a di­a­logue be­tween an Ir­ish Rail worker and his neigh­bour. The con­ver­sa­tion takes place in their lo­cal pub. It is fic­tional. Eight pages of the most an­noy­ing and bor­ing writ­ing I have had the mis­for­tune to read.

When a rail­way union can­not spell the plu­ral form of ‘train’ cor­rectly, then I’m won­der­ing who these peo­ple re­ally are. This is a di­rect copy of a para­graph on page seven: ‘Cus­tomer ser­vice Staff on train’s, At­ten­dence pro­gramme, Ve­hi­cle man­age­ment sys­tem (Ir­ish Rail has big fleet of cars/vans), etc.’ What on earth does that mean? Note how they spell ‘at­ten­dance’. The leaflet spells ‘pan­tomime’ as ‘Pan­tomine’ and for some rea­son be­yond me they spell it with a cap­i­tal ‘P’. Right through the leaflet they seem to have a pen­chant for cap­i­tal let­ters for the first let­ter of com­mon nouns. That a trade union would spell the per­son who pre­sides over court pro­ceed­ings ‘Judge’ rather than the cor­rect way, ‘judge’, must be a Freudian slip? The NBRU think the world pop­u­la­tion is six bil­lion. It’s over seven bil­lion. Al­most on ev­ery para­graph there are gram­mat­i­cal and or syn­tac­ti­cal er­rors. In this eight-page leaflet one is sub­jected to read­ing the words: ‘pissed’, ‘Christ’, ‘feck’. I take great ex­cep­tion at the use of such pro­fan­i­ties and vul­gar­i­ties.

Is it that the au­thor thinks that he or she has some sort of lit­er­ary tal­ent that al­lows him/her to write in such a style? It tries to ex­plain why the unions are in dis­pute with Ir­ish Rail. It could not be less ef­fec­tive and con­fus­ing. It is con­vo­luted and al­most im­pos­si­ble to fol­low in any sort of co­her­ent fash­ion. It’s silly too.

If the NBRU’s ne­go­ti­at­ing skills are any­thing like this doc­u­ment, then is it any won­der we have had rail stop­pages? It de­means ev­ery train driver in the coun­try. But guess what, I’m still a friend of lo­co­mo­tive driv­ers. Maybe the next time, NBRU man­agers de­cide to write a leaflet ex­plain­ing their case, they should run it by lo­co­mo­tive driv­ers be­fore pub­lish­ing it.

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