Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
31 October 2017
The Communist Party of Ireland expresses its solidarity with the Iarnród Éireann workers who go on strike tomorrow (1 November) in a series of rolling one-day strikes. Railway workers have not had a pay increase for almost ten years, and it is long overdue. Their demand is for a very modest 3¾ per cent.
Decent public transport requires proper state funding. The state certainly did not waste the opportunity of the economic crisis but used it to inflict “austerity” on our people. In doing so they slashed the funding of our public services. This funding must be restored immediately.
The background of the dispute is that railway services have grown by more than a half in ten years, which has seen their income soar. Iarnród Éireann is diverting income from passenger services to pay for railway infrastructure, such as the renewal and replacement of tracks and the maintenance of trains. These are usually paid from exchequer capital funds.
This situation is unsustainable. Government funding is down from €189 million in 2007 to €117 million last year. The National Transport Authority recommends that €125 million be injected into Iarnród Éireann over the next three years, to make up for the underfunding of the railways over the last ten years. The Department of Social Welfare has frozen funds for free travel since 2009, while the National Transport Authority recommends that its funds be increased by €5.9 million.
The railway workers are making a very modest pay demand, despite the expansion of services and a cut in funds. This amounts to the workers subsidising public transport, which is not acceptable. Public transport needs proper funding.