Sunday 24 September 2017

Bus Éireann is open to talks with unions, but ponders more closures

Bus Éireann Stock Image
Bus Éireann Stock Image

Anne-Marie Walsh

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".

Irish Independent

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