Irish Rail and unions set for Labour Court talks in bid to end pay row
Irish Rail and union representatives are set for talks at the Labour Court in a bid to resolve their ongoing industrial dispute.
Iarnrod Eireann, SIPTU and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) have all accepted invites from the Labour Court to attend on Thursday for a hearing on the bitter pay wrangle and associated strike action.
Tens of thousands of commuters and transport users faced morning and evening chaos on the roads on Tuesday as Irish Rail staff held a second day of walk-outs.
Another three days of action are planned.
A statement from Irish Rail said: "The company has accepted the invitation, and has been consistent in its position that the industrial relations machinery of the State provides the only forum where the current issues can be addressed and resolved.
"While at this time Iarnrod Eireann has not been advised of a withdrawal by trade unions of the further dates of industrial action (14th and 23rd November, 8th December), the company hopes that the issues can be resolved in a manner that ensures customers suffer no further disruption to services."
NBRU cautioned against expectations of resolution.
General secretary Dermot O'Leary said it was a "potential step forward" to resolve what he described as a "debilitating and unnecessary dispute".
SIPTU transport division organiser Greg Ennis said: "We have confirmed that SIPTU representatives will attend the hearing with a view to achieving an acceptable resolution of the pay dispute."
On Tuesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned that pay rises for rail workers should wait until investment is made to the fleet and infrastructure.
He said money should first be spent on safety, increasing line speed and buying more carriages to improve the service and respond to climate change.
Irish Rail, which is already under deep financial strain, is set to lose about 1.5 million euro (£1.3 million) if staff push through with plans for another three days of stoppages.
The next planned strike is on the day of Ireland's World Cup play-off game against Denmark in Dublin next week, with the fallout likely to increase pressure on Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross.
The following stoppage is December 8, traditionally the busiest Christmas shopping day of the year.
No trains operated across Intercity, Dart and commuter routes on Tuesday.
The result was huge volumes of traffic in and out of the main cities, and a surge in demand for public transport on bus and Luas services.