THE IRISH EXPORTERS association has called on trade unions planning a rail strike to abandon industrial action planned for this weekend and early next week.
The IEA said that the work stoppage planned by SIPTU and the NBRU will “reduce freight options for exporters and damage the economy”, as well as calling into question to viability of rail.
The rail strikes are scheduled for this Sunday, which is the All-Ireland football semi-final between Mayo and Kerry, and Monday of next week.
Work stoppages are also pencilled in for three days in September, including the 7th and the 21st, when the All-Ireland hurling and football finals will be played.
IEA chief executive Simon McKeever said:
We urge the unions to reconsider withdrawing their labour on Sunday 24th and Monday 25th August 2014. Not only is rail friegh under threat by this planned industrial action, the consequences to the export economy are potentially significant.
He warned that similar actions in the past have led to a high level of distrust of rail travel in general, with customers permanently deserting the railways.
“An unofficial strike in 2000 caused a number of customers to abandon rail freight altogether. Should an official work stoppage take place, the damage to the economy would be considerable.”
He pointed out the Iarnród Éireann, which is a member of the IEA, has recently reversed a trend of decline, with freight volumes growing by 4% in 2013.
“Together we have identified new business opportunities which are being actively pursued. We urge unions to call off this action, as we want to continue to work with organisations such as Iarnród Éireann to strengthen rail freight, not undermine it.”