Transport Minister Shane Ross has been criticised for his “hands off” approach to finding a resolution to the problems within Irish Rail in the context of this week’s industrial action.
The criticism came from Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea who accused Minister Ross of failing to honour commitments that could have resolved the dispute.
“I visited the Irish Rail workers on the picket line in Limerick and none of them want to be on strike but feel they are forced into industrial action, as they have been treated very badly by management and haven’t received any pay increase in 10 years,” Deputy O’Dea told the Limerick Post.
“At the time of the Bus Éireann strikes Minister Ross promised to establish a multi-stakeholder forum which would include all transport companies, the National Transport Authority, the Department of Transport plus trade unions. The purpose of this forum being to iron out wider concerns before problems turned into industrial action. Minister Ross has failed to honour his commitment,” he explained.
The Limerick TD believes that if that forum been established when promised, it could have prevented the industrial action that has left thousands of passengers stranded.
“There was a deal nearing completion, therefore the emphasis should be to go back and renegotiate. Negotiations are only way resolution will be reached. The Minister has a responsibility and an obligation to facilitate these talks while both management and unions owe it to their loyal commuters to get back around the table.
“Today’s action is yet another example of the failure of Minister Ross’ strategy for overcoming industrial issues. His policy of ignoring the problem will most certainly not deliver a solution that protects workers, the tax payer and above all, passengers.”
Limerick Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has also called for urgent intervention by Minister Ross to end the dispute.
“The Irish Rail Workers and their union have just cause. They have endured a ten-year pay freeze, and in effect have been asked to subsidise the underfunding of our rail transport system through their wages. Enough is enough. It’s time for the Minister and his government to address the underlying problem of funding for our rail system.
“The dispute can be resolved through negotiation — all that is lacking is the political will from this right-wing Fine Gael led government which is hell bent on running down and privatising our public transport network,” he added.
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