Irish Rail management confident of strike resolution; Unions want pay cuts frozen

Unions at Irish Rail say the only way strike action planned for next Sunday and Monday can be averted is if the company and the Government freeze the implementation of pay cuts.

Discussions at the Labour Relations Commission in Dublin have resumed following exploratory talks on Saturday.

The company says it is confident of being able to resolve the dispute, but unions seem to be less optimistic.

After three hours of talks on Saturday, all sides in the Irish Rail dispute are back at the Labour relations Commission this afternoon.

On his way into the talks Irish Rail's HR director, Ciaran Masterson, was optimistic that while difficulties lay ahead, they could look at averting the next 48-hour strike that will hit All-Ireland hurling final fans on Sunday, and commuters on Monday.

He said: "All options are on the table, and I believe if we manage our business effectively and efficiently today, there is always the possibility of averting any dispute for the weekend."

That optimism though is not shared by unions.

Siptu's Owen Reidy says there is really only one way the strike could be called off.

Mr Reidy said: "For that to happen, the company would have to make a move, they would have to freeze the pay cuts or something like that.

"So if they are saying that, that might be positive, but it remains to be seen, we'll have to wait and hear what they say."

The NBRU is more trenchant, saying the big issue now is for the Government and how it funds Irish Rail.

The union's General Secretary, Dermot O'Leary, said: "Subvention and the Government subsidy is stripping out funding from what is a public service.

"It's just not sustainable in terms of providing that pubic service for the citizens of the State, so yes it's a big issue for us."

Commuters will be keeping a keen eye on these talks, but as of yet there is little sign that the planned strike for Sunday and Monday can be averted.

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