Tomorrow, commuters face another rail strike on one of the busiest days for public transport users. Since August, the National Bus and Rail Union, NBRU, and the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union, SIPTU, have warned that unless genuine efforts were made to resolve the outstanding issues, a strike was inevitable. This was almost three months ago, and there has been virtually no input from the Government to try to find a resolution. The Government has taken a hands-off approach, which seems to be the culture when dealing with relatively substantial matters. The Government allows a crisis to deepen and develop, and what will follow is chaos for travellers. To take this approach is unfair on people who depend so much on public transport as a means of getting to work or attending school or college. Intercity, commuter and DART services will face significant disruption across the country, and although the strike is expected to be confined to a number of hours in the morning, it will have a knock-on effect for the day.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Donohoe, suggests it is a very serious situation, while observing from the side lines, like a casual observer who has no involvement in the case. The gap between management and workers appears to be widening over the past three months. Workers believe they have contributed substantially to increasing productivity, and they have. They have made many changes that have improved the company’s viability. However, management consistently says they must find more savings. We are all aware of the core reason for the need to increase productivity and make savings, which is the continued depletion of investment in public transport over a number of years. I do not expect a lecture from the Tánaiste on what happened under the previous Administration.