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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All, this rather amusing article appeared in yesterdays Sunday Independent, which is one of the largest circulating Sunday newspapers here in Ireland.
The background to this piece, is that the Irish national rail company, Iarnrod Eireann, was hit by an unofficial strike for the first couple of days last week due to an attempt to introduce some new engines on Monday morning. The reason for the strike was 2 drivers refusing to drive them unless they got a pay rise (even though they had previously got an increse for the forthcoming introduction as far as I can figure out!). Needless to say it caused mayhem for commuters and
no sympathy for the drivers or union who also seemed obliged to go out on strike in sympathy...

Industrial relations at Irish Rail a model of inconsistency

BELIEVE it, or believe it not, Hornby introduced its new digital train control system last Monday morning.
The system includes two control units - the Select and the Elite - as well as a four- function locomotive decoder (measuring 10mm x 17mm x 3.5mm and retailing for less than €10) and a four-point decoder, incorporating a capacitor discharge unit.
According to its website, it was no surprise that the company was entering the "world of digital control" - but the decision to introduce two new control units "did surprise many". Obviously the fools do not know what awaits them when the toy hits Cork.
Leaving aside the decision to introduce two new digital systems (without consultation!), I cannot believe they are actually boasting about it in public.
One assumes that every Toymaster in the city will be picketed by kids who, while willing to continue driving the Flying Scotsman, don't feel that they have had time to adjust to this much vaunted "new" technology. Given the apparent levels of militancy at the moment there has to be a danger that the unrest could spill over into Scalextric.
Without labouring the point, after having had to travel to and from Ennis by bus on Monday and Tuesday, it was hard to shake off the view that the toy company's current slogan "Hornby Digital - the real way to run a railway" might actually have more truth in it than Iarnrod Eireann's always dangerous option: "We're getting there . . ."
Whether we will actually get there tomorrow morning is of course an open question. As you read this, there is probably a chap down in Cork tirelessly shoveling coal onto his open fire, pondering whether he is actually covered by last week's agreement.
After all, when an arrangement arrived at in 2000 can still be universally known as the "New Deal" (perhaps, in an unconscious way, harking back to the days of Roosevelt and the Mallard?) and fought over tooth-and-nail six years later, it seems optimistic to believe that tomorrow's trial introduction will necessarily go off without a hitch.
It may seem simplistic to blame two blokes in Cork for a strike which caused untold misery to hundreds of people traveling between Dublin and Ennis - not to mention tens of thousands elsewhere - but it is hard to believe that either the unions or the company would have walked into such a situation if they had had any warning of what was tohappen.
This was a thought I found myself pondering while chomping on my Mars bar during the 10 minute bus halt in Boris-in-Ossory - during a journey in which the coach, perhaps in Bus Eireann's own nod to a more genteel way of travel, avoided the motorway almost as comprehensively as the train drivers were contemporaneously eschewing rail.
It is clear though that industrial relations in the company are stuck in some sort of a time warp. It is only a few months since a union representative was on television with a straight face, arguing that Dart drivers were entitled to more money for driving the longer trains "under a 1984 agreement".
The legacy of ILDA - the Irish Locomotive Driver's Association - famed for doing exactly the reverse of that which its name suggests, obviously dies hard.
Perhaps, though, I am being too pessimistic.
Tomorrow morning, as the driver heads for Kent Station in the early dawn - flat cap on, flask in hand - perhaps he will run his index finger along the side of the new Mark IV, pat her paternally and whisper that she is "a beauty".
Frankly though, you might be better off checking out the flights.

John Smith

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522 Posts
I like that - it is rather witty!
Good to see that labour unions of other nationalities can actually outdo the traditional 'thrawnness' of the British.

It struck me that much of the terminology/style sounded very 'English' (bloke, chap etc) and I now gather that The Irish Independent and UK version share the same ownership, which probably explains it.

Out of idle curiosity I typed 'train driver strike' into the UK Independent Online Site. It didn't dig up the story above, but it did produce a lot of interesting train related articles. If anyone would like to take a peek, here's a quick link to the results.

Train Driver Strike

I'll probably waste the rest of my day following through on some of the articles now!
Swiss lovers may find this one particularly attractive, though it's a little too late for Dennis but perhaps not for me. Not so much how to get from Zürich and Geneva, but how to ENJOY the journey and, amongst other things, visit "the birthplace of the meringue at Meiringen". Who could possibly resist that!

The GoldenPass Line: Switzerland's scenic railway
There are tons/tonnes (!) of others.

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33 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I did like that article alright. With a name like John Smith I suppose there could be an english connection somewhere. I must say he was well up with current Hornby developments, it wasn't the usual article i'd get to read in a Sunday newspaper.

Don't worry, you don't have a monopoly on job demarcation in the UK, our unions are also definitely world class!! The previous rail argument was when drivers wanted more pay due to the introduction of extra carriages and longer trains...they reckoned it would mean extra responsibility and stress. Mind you there didn't seem to be any response when people suggested a pay cut for drivers driving shorter trains!! Imagine all the fun you have been missing out on since everything became privatised in Britian!

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10,720 Posts
>visit "the birthplace of the meringue at Meiringen". Who could possibly resist that!
Errr, I did last summer. Meiringen is about a couple of miles from the amazing Aare gorge and the equally astonishing Reichenbach Falls (yes, Watson, it is those Reichenbach Falls) which between them took most of the time we had set aside that day.

As for the train driver's strike, it's not a new phenomenom at all. When the 071 class of locomotives was introduced in the 70s, they remained out of action until a similar dispute was resolved. After resolution, it had the curious side effect of producing double heading (a pair of 121s) on the Rosslare trains. This was because since the drivers were being paid extra to drive the extra power, they should actually drive it.

If you want some idea of what a pair of 121s looked like, have a look at this:-
A pair of Irish 121 class diesel locos

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