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UCC students support rail strike

Today marks the second day of industrial action by Irish Rail over pay rise claims. From 9am onwards, a group of Irish Rail workers affiliated with SIPTU and NBRU [National Bus and Rail Union] gathered in front of Cork’s Kent Station as part of a nationwide strike.

Speaking to the UCC Express, a spokesperson from NBRU explained why they were on strike today: ‘Today is part of a series of five days of work stoppages that we have been forced into in pursuance of a pay claim of 3.7% […] We have had negotiations with the company in the WRC [Workplace Relations Commission] over a few months. [we were] offered 1.5%. We are looking for 3.75%, in line with our colleagues in Bus Éireann. That’s the issue for which we are here today.’

When asked about any future actions, the strikers’ representative stated that ‘this is the second day of a series of five days. That’s our plan. Hopefully after today things will progress, and we may be back into talks to resolve this situation. But strikes are planned until the 8th of December.’ After December 8th, it was stated, the situation will be reviewed, with a possibility for more work stoppage. According to the same spokesperson, Irish Rail or the Department of Transport are expecting workers to ‘forgo any pay claims now or into the future,’ and that Irish Rail workers have not had a pay rise since 2008. Emphasis was placed on the unprecedented level of support for the strike from the entire Irish Rail workforce, as we were told that this was not a ‘drivers’ issue, but it is ‘across the entire staff.’

A small group of students from UCC joined the striking workers today in a show of solidarity at Kent Station. UCC Architectural student Evin Ryan, who was present at the strike, told us: ‘I’m going down because I want to show solidarity with the workers. They have suffered their fair share of cuts and have been forced into this strike by an incompetent company management.’

Former UCC student and Labour local area representative for Cork City South West, Luke Field, spoke to the Express to make the following comments following a visit to Heuston Station in Dublin: ‘For work reasons, I take the train twice a week between Cork and Dublin. For me and many others, it’s an essential service that has been underfunded for far too long, with the lack of investment subsidised by low wages for workers. This can’t continue.’

Irish Rail customers with a ticket booked for the day of the dispute can expect an automatic full refund in the upcoming days. The next day of industrial action is expected to take place on Tuesday the 14th of November.