Bus Éireann is open to talks with unions, but ponders more closures
The board of Bus Éireann has opened the door to go back into talks with unions to address its "perilous" finances as it makes a desperate bid to avoid an all-out strike.
Sources revealed that further route and depots closures were discussed, if the company could not draw up a survival plan with unions to be signed off on March 27. The meeting was called following two failed attempts to reach agreement on a plan to reduce its payroll by €12m at the Workplace Relations Commission.
In a statement, Bus Éireann said management outlined a number of cost-saving options that could be urgently implemented at a meeting yesterday.
It said before implementing these, it sought written clarification from unions on their position. "Subject to this clarification, there may be an opportunity to re-engage in time-limited talks," it said.
Acting chief executive Ray Hernan has warned that the company could go bust in May after suffering losses of €9m last year, and €1.5m in January. It is understood a major stumbling block at the last set of talks was the company's attempt to reduce its €13m annual overtime bill, equalling a 10th of payroll.
Unions claimed this would affect workers on 48-hour weeks with guaranteed overtime, more than those on 39-hour weeks with ad-hoc overtime.
Transport Minister Shane Ross said he hoped the board's statement could "provide a basis for realistic negotiations between both parties on the company's future".