Workers at Irish Rail have voted by huge majorities to come out on strike to secure a proper pay rise. In SIPTU, the vote was 86% in favour while it was 95% in the NRBU.
Irish Rail workers have not had a proper pay rise since 2008 – even though rents, insurance and the wider cost of living has shot up.
The claim for higher pay follows from increases that were secured at Dublin Bus and at Luas.
The management at Irish Rail offered a derisory increase of 1.75% a year but tied this to a wide range of work-intensity measures.
They wanted more performance management, payment on a monthly rather than weekly basis and greater scope to re-deploy workers.
Behind Irish Rail stands a government that is determined to weaken workers’ organisation in the state-owned transport industry. The longer term agenda of both Shane Ross and Fine Gael is more privatisation.
They want to keep the state subsidy to public transport at a very low level and, as a result, create more confrontations that are now occurring at Irish Rail.
Workers will need to respond to these tactics with a show of strength that brings into play solidarity action from across transport.
They will also have to take on the political challenge of ridding ourselves of a right wing anti-worker government.