Friday 20 October 2017

Bus Éireann faces renewed strike threat after 3pc pay rise offer

Staff have been offered a pay rise of up to 3pc a year over the next four years if they accept the cuts and do not take industrial action. (Stock picture)
Staff have been offered a pay rise of up to 3pc a year over the next four years if they accept the cuts and do not take industrial action. (Stock picture)

Anne-Marie Walsh

Bus Éireann faces renewed threat of strikes after it offered staff a pay rise of up to 3pc to help buy industrial peace.

The company has announced cuts to premium payments, allowances and redundancies under a cost-cutting plan to save itself from going bust.

Staff have been offered a pay rise of up to 3pc a year over the next four years if they accept the cuts and do not take industrial action.

In a letter sent to the workforce of 2,600, acting chief executive Ray Hernan made the wage offer after outlining a series of cuts that will include job losses.

The Irish Independent last week revealed a report by consultants Grant Thornton warning the company may be forced to close its Expressway service.

But a row erupted in the Dáil yesterday over whether Transport Minister Shane Ross had even read the report.

Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy warned the State's countrywide bus service risked being drastically reduced while private companies were allowed to "cherrypick" lucrative routes.

Mr Troy said the Transport Minister was briefing the Cabinet on the matter but the minister had not read the report by Grant Thornton.

Read more: Shane Ross under fire for 'not reading report' on cuts to Bus Éireann

"So what did the minister actually brief the Cabinet on if he had not read the report?" Mr Troy asked.

The Fianna Fáil TD said he had yesterday photocopied the report and left it in Mr Ross's postal slot at Leinster House.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny countered that the Fianna Fáil TD was being unfair to Mr Ross.

"Ah, you're being very hard on Minister Ross. You're being very hard on him at the start of a new session," the Taoiseach said.

Mr Kenny said Bus Éireann had themselves commissioned the report and that the minister had not received it.

The latest proposals outlined by Mr Hernan say that shift premium payments will be eliminated and Sunday premium pay will drop from 100pc to 20pc. The company also wants to reduce overtime rates and cut allowances, while sick pay benefits will be reduced.

The company will seek to "reduce or eliminate" temporary staff. The letter says there will be no "spare drivers" and a pool of casual drivers and contractors will be set up.

Clerical staff who are considered to be on higher grades than they should will not get further pay increments. There will also be a major "streamlining" of management and support staff.

National Bus and Railworkers Union general secretary Dermot O'Leary said there is "a real danger" that the entire transport infrastructure could be "forced into industrial turmoil" if such an "attack" on pay goes ahead.

He said it was insulting to bus workers to suggest a pay rise of up to 3pc is available when the threatened cuts "are in the order of 25pc plus".

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News