SIPTU has strongly condemned Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, for using “spin and misinformation” in an attempt to undermine Irish Rail and its employees during an appearance on RTE’s Primetime last night (Thursday, 27th February). SIPTU Organiser, Paul Cullen, said: “During an interview by Minister Varadkar on Primetime the impression was given that Irish Rail workers have seen major wage increases in recent years. This is completely untrue. “Ordinary workers at Irish Rail have actually accepted a wage freeze since 2008 while staff numbers have also been cut by over 2,000 during the same period. “In his attempt to undermine the reasonable request of workers not to bear all the costs of Government cuts to public transport funding the Minster failed to mention that the increases in average employee costs are in most part due to the increasing numbers of managers employed by Irish Rail." Paul Cullen added: “For instance during 2010, 115 manager positions were advertised compared to only 24 other traffic positions. “In recent years costs for the Department of Transport have also been increased due to the creation of bodies such as the National Transport Authority, the Railway Safety Commission and the Railway Accident Investigation Unit. “There is a crisis in the Irish Rail network due to under-investment. What is needed is co-operation between workers, the company and Government to ensure that a high quality public rail service can be maintained. Developing such co-operation is not possible if the Minister intends to continue to use spin and misinformation during media performances.”