By Jamie Concanon
Major changes in handling disputes like Irish Rail and the Luas strikes will be needed for the new government to avoid widespread strike action, according to Scott Miller of SIPTU
“Traditionally these kind of disputes would be solved through widespread agreements. I would be surprised if the new government doesn’t return to the national negotiations for the public sector that proved so successful in the past,” he said.
Referring to Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe’s comments that the new government will need to avoid what he called a “season of strikes”, Scott said the Fine Gael minister did not engage in a productive manner at all with previous disputes.
“There have been issues in the past which Minister Donohoe did not engage constructively at all. I would hope the new minister, or indeed if Paschal stays on, will take a more pro-active approach,” he said.
Minister Donohoe told the Journal.ie “we can’t repeat the mistakes of the past,” saying that not placing public transport workers disputes high on the agenda could lead to further strikes. SIPTU’s decision to withdraw from talks over the Irish Rail is leading some to believe they will follow a similar direction to Luas drivers.
“The current Irish Rail dispute is a continuation of last year’s dispute, as opposed to them following the Luas strikes,” Scott Miller said.
Irish Rail workers are demanding pay increases of up to 25%, and a spokesperson for Irish Rail said the demands are “not grounded in reality,” and said they are not in line with company finances.
With negotiations struggling to have a positive impact, the new government could be faced with major issues in the public sector.
“Obviously I don’t think the new government will be seeking public sector disputes, but I would hope they will take a more pro-active approach than the previous government,” Scott said.