A CONSULTANCY firm has been asked to examine how to "save" Dublin Bus if drivers this week vote for industrial action.
Accountancy firm Deloitte has been asked to consider the financial hit the company will endure if workers reject the latest attempt to impose cost-cutting measures, which will be voted on by unions later this week.
Weekend reports said the firm was asked to advise on a possible liquidation of the company; however, sources said the motivation for employing the company was to "save" the semi-state public transport company.
It comes after Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and Public Transport Minister Alan Kelly last week warned the outlook for the company was "very stark" unless workers agreed to changes to conditions aimed at saving almost €12m a year.
Workers mounted a three-day strike in August, which both damaged the company's reputation and failed to resolve the issues, a report from independent consultants Noel Dowling and Ultan Courtney into the industrial unrest found.
They were appointed by a group comprising the Government, Irish Congress of Trade Unions and employers' group IBEC to investigate why negotiations had failed despite 12 visits to the Labour Relations Commission and three trips to the Labour Court.
The dispute centres on changes to pay and working conditions, with sources saying the main sticking points were proposals to change the amount of time given to drivers to travel to their place of work, and the issue of spare drivers to fill gaps in the roster having to work anti-social hours and not being promoted.
The report also noted that among the options for the company, if the changes are not agreed, included being placed in receivership or the cost-cutting being forced through by Government. The ballot this week will be the fifth time workers have voted on the cost-cutting measures. All grades, except 2,500 drivers, have accepted the measures.
It is understood that Deloitte was to examine the precarious financial position of the company, which lost almost €4m last year and has a €52m deficit, and to present a range of options in the event that a strike goes ahead.
"The motivation is not to bring about the liquidation of the company, but to save it," one source said.
"It's a realistic, pragmatic look at what might be needed to save the company. It's in the ethos of trying to save the company."
The Department of Transport refused to comment.