Rail work­ers on the picket line ‘had to make a stand’ in pay row

FRUS­TRATED STAFF TAKE PART IN SCHED­ULED STRIKE DAYS IN THE HOPE OF GET­TING RESTORA­TION AF­TER A TEN-YEAR PAY FREEZE, WRITES DEB­O­RAH COLE­MAN

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS -

AS Iarn­ród Éire­ann staff staged the first of a num­ber of planned strikes last Wed­nes­day (Novem­ber 1), staff at Ark­low Train Sta­tion were out on the picket line mak­ing their case for fair pay af­ter a decade-long pay freeze.

Unions rep­re­sent­ing the staff are seek­ing a wage in­crease of 3.75 per cent over three years with­out any con­di­tions.

‘We are the only group of the three, in­clud­ing Dublin Bus and Bus Éire­ann, who have not had our pay re­in­stated af­ter 28 months, as agreed,’ said Joe Long.

‘No­body wants to be here on strike. We all want to be work­ing and do­ing our jobs and get­ting peo­ple where they need to go, but we had to do some­thing,’ he added.

Col­league Barry Evans was keen to highlight that it is not just the driv­ers, but main­te­nance staff like him who have also been with­out any in­cre­ments, de­spite heav­ier work­loads for the same flat rate, as more than 1,000 staff were shed from the com­pany.

‘We went out in Hur­ri­cane Ophe­lia for 20-plus hours. Dur­ing a storm one Christ­mas, we walked the track to check it wasn’t washed away and when there is a tree fallen on the track, we have to get off, chop it up and make sure the train keeps mov­ing,’ said Mr Evans.

‘If you are named en­gine su­per­vi­sor you get an hour ex­tra pay and are re­spon­si­ble for the life of ev­ery man on the team. If some­thing hap­pens to any of them you are the one fac­ing a pos­si­ble cus­to­dial sen­tence. Peo­ple don’t see that and they don’t know about all the other work that goes on be­hind the scenes,’ Mr Evans said.

He agreed that the strike ac­tion was ‘the last straw’ and that none of the staff want to be on the picket line – with­out pay or dis­com­mod­ing pas­sen­gers.

‘No­body wanted to come out, but we had to make a stand,’ agreed Vin­cent Ger­aghty who is based in Dublin but re­sides in Ark­low.

‘A deal was al­most across the line but the plug was pulled on it at the last minute. We have al­ready given as much as pos­si­ble. We can­not keep giv­ing and giv­ing,’ he said.

‘We don’t even know why we are here ne­go­ti­at­ing again when we agreed a deal nine years ago,’ added Mr Evans. ‘Once again we are the Cin­derella of the trans­port ser­vice.’

The staff say that if a deal is not met they will be strik­ing on sched­uled days for the fore­see­able fu­ture but have given their union a man­date to call and ‘all-out’ strike for up to a week if a deal is not bro­kered.

In the mean­time, Ark­low com­muters and rail users will have to make al­ter­na­tive travel ar­range­ments, and must note that Dublin Bus and Bus Éire­ann will not ac­cept tick­ets.

NO­BODY WANTS TO BE HERE. WE ALL WANT TO BE W ORKING AND DO­ING OUR JOBS AND GET­TING PEO­PLE WHERE THEY NEED TO GO, BUT WE HAD TO D O SOME­THING

Iarn­ród Éire­ann staff on strike at Ark­low Train Sta­tion last We­nes­day.

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