Staff at Iarnród Éireann have suspended their industrial action over pay pending a ballot of members on a Labour Court Recommendation issued this afternoon.

The Labour Court has recommended that Iarnród Éireann staff should receive no strings attached pay increases worth 2.5% per year for the next three years - with the possibility of further increases subject to productivity.

The increases will be payable on 1 December 2017, 2018 and 2019, with the agreement expiring in November 2020.

They will also get a once-off "goodwill" gesture voucher worth €500 next month in recognition of the efforts of staff over the last 10 years. 

There must be no further cost increasing claims or industrial action during the lifetime of the agreement in relations to matters covered by the deal.

However, the company must undertake not to propose any measures outside of this agreement that would change terms and conditions of workers except through the medium of productivity discussion.

Further discussions on a number of "Initiatives and Principles" which have already been agreed in principle will be finalised by 28 February 2018.

They include a performance management scheme, a better absenteeism policy, a vehicle management system for the road fleet, and acceptance of certain new technology.

There must also be full compliance with the Railway Safety Act 2005 in relation to medical assessments.

A further set of productivity negotiations - which could give rise to further pay increases - must be finalised by April 2018.

They include payroll reform, redeployment of surplus staff, rostering and organisation structures to apply to new entrants.

The parties will also discuss reforms of allowances, restructuring of clerical staff arising from outsourcing of payroll, a review of station staff, new time and attendance arrangements, and the creation of combined maintenance teams.

The court has made no recommendation on four further issues which it says should be addressed through their long established procedures for dispute resolution: contract hours for new entrants, core work practices in engineering, rostering flexibility across the work period and practice in relation to location of work.

The Minister for Transport Shane Ross welcomed the trade unions' decision to suspend their industrial action while their members ballot on the recommendations.

"Passengers, workers and the company all need to see this dispute resolved in a realistic, fair and sustainable manner.

"It was a positive step earlier this week when the two parties to the dispute accepted the Labour Court's invitation to a hearing, and it is very welcome news today that the Court has now issued its considered Recommendation. 

"I am sure the travelling public welcomes the announcement that the unions are suspending industrial action while the ballot takes place," said Mr Ross.

Iarnród Éireann also welcomed the suspension of further industrial action.

In a statement, it said: "This ensures that full services will operate on 14 and 23 November, and 8 December.  This will include additional DART, Commuter and Intercity services for the Republic of Ireland v Denmark World Cup play-off on 14 November."

Unite Regional Officer Willie Quigley said that the recommendation represented "welcome progress" which would not have been made without the determined action taken by workers. 

"What is clear this evening is that the Labour Court largely accepted the arguments made by the unions," said Mr Quigley.

The National Bus & Rail Union and SIPTU said the decision to ballot workers was taken at a meeting of representatives of the Irish Rail Trade Union Group in Liberty Hall this evening.