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Iarnród Éireann: Labour Relations Commission update.

5 September 2013

TSSA along with the other trade unions meet with the company Wednesday 4 September under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission.

The Labour Relations Commission called the meeting to explore what the reasons for the rejection of the cost containment proposals were and to explore the possibility of further talks to try and resolve the current impasse or if the matter should be progressed onto the Labour Court.

The TSSA put forward that our members rejected the cost containment proposals as they would lead to the erosion of the terms and conditions of our members in Iarnród Éireann to a severe detriment financially and that our members had a lack of trust and confidence in the company.

Issues such as the incremental step back, reduction of allowances, increase in the working week and reduction in overtime would severely impact our members take home pay and was a step to far.

Our member’s rejection of the Labour Relations commission proposals identified a fundamental issue of trust and loss of confidence. We explained to the commission that our member’s lack of trust is based on the company seeking another cost containment agreement so soon after the cost containment 1 was agreed and also by the size of the financial deterioration in such a short period of time. Our members voted to accept cost containment 1 on the understanding that the company would not come back looking for further cost recovery measures until 2016. This has led to our member’s perception now being that if they agree to this new proposal that they will again be targeted well before the agreement is set to expire.

The issue of trust is further exasperated by the unilateral change to VS terms and conditions. Our concerns are that Iarnród Éireann unilaterally changed the VS package so as to require our members to self-fund any pension top up rather than the company make up the difference as has been the case for our members that have previously taken the option of VS. Our members now face less favourable treatment than those that availed of the VS package before these changes were unilaterally imposed. This change was implemented without consultation, negotiation or agreement from any of the trade unions. The company have now informed us that they will go away and look further into the issue of VS.

We reiterated that since 2002 our members have contributed significantly to cost savings at Iarnród Éireann through substantial productivity increases which has seen the reduction in staff numbers while train services have increased in the same period. Further our members have contributed to savings by being on a pay freeze since 2008 and the acceptance of the cost containment agreement in June 2012 which has had a diminishing impact on our members take home pay.

We further explained that our members have also been extremely flexible around taking on additional workloads and different work practices that have seen them working in excess of their contractual obligations.

This goodwill is not inexhaustible and should not be taken for granted. The TSSA and other trade unions have always engaged constructively with the company during any cost reduction process. Our members have now reached their limits of goodwill.

The Labour Relations Commission took on board the views of the trade unions and company and has now adjourned to consider them and will contact all parties for further discussions at a later date.

TSSA emphasized it was prepared to engage in looking at alternative ways of achieving savings that are both fair and reasonable. It is crucial however that any proposals are only implemented by agreement by all parties.

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