Bus firms facing threat of action over privatisation
Published 14/04/2014 | 02:30
DUBLIN Bus and Bus Eireann face the threat of industrial action over plans that may put 440 'surplus' jobs in jeopardy.
The National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU) has warned they face "inevitable consequences" if they fail to consult staff on plans to privatise 10pc of bus routes.
The letter, copied to Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, said the companies and National Transport Authority (NTA) had not given staff representatives a place at talks.
And some 440 staff, including drivers, maintenance, supervisory, clerical and executive staff, will be affected by the State's plan to privatise 10pc of routes.
"It is unfathomable to allow a process to proceed when at its core is the possibility that up to 440 staff will not know what the future may hold, until such time as the tendering process is completed," said the letter from NBRU General Secretary, Dermot O'Leary.
He said the companies were aware the new regime would lead to staff issues, but could not quantify them, while the NTA appeared to believe it was not its problem.
"Frankly, neither position is tenable or tolerable," he said.
It is only last August that Dublin Bus was hit by a three-day strike in a dispute over cost-saving plans – with drivers later that year voting to accept the company's decision to implement the €11.7m cost cutting plan from Sunday, November 17.
The latest issue arose after the Government has agreed to open up some routes to competition to comply with EU directives. The NTA is allowing private operators to compete for 10pc of the market.
The plan will involve buses on the Waterford-Dublin route and some routes on the outskirts of Dublin. Waterford's five city bus routes and the service to Tramore will be awarded to private operators from 2016.
Bus Eireann routes serving Kildare, Tullamore, Newbridge, Portlaoise and Athy are also expected to be privatised.
Contracts are due to be awarded to the private companies next year.
Unions believe workers' terms and conditions are likely to worsen if they are employed by contractors, while they are unlikely to get pensions.
The NBRU previously made industrial relations history by holding a 'No Fares Day' anti-privatisation protest, when members of the public did not have to pay to travel. The protest was made against plans by the late Minister for Transport Seamus Brennan to privatise the public transport system in 2003.
Dublin Bus said it was willing to have "detailed engagement" with the NBRU in the coming months, when more detail of the NTA plans are available.
Bus Eireann said it was not making a comment until it had replied to the NBRU letter.