Wednesday 26 July 2017

Bus Éireann refusing to rule out job losses while strikes loom

Shane Ross TD Picture: Tom Burke
Shane Ross TD Picture: Tom Burke

Anne-Marie Walsh and Niall O'Connor

Bus Éireann is not ruling out compulsory redundancies as it draws up a cost-cutting plan to avoid going bust in 18 months.

When asked whether it is considering mandatory job losses, a spokesperson told the Irish Independent that "nothing can be ruled in or out" until a final plan is presented to its board.

Plans are already on the table in which temporary staff may lose their jobs, while management and support staff are being "streamlined".

"Management is currently carrying out a cost review of the whole business and when this is complete, it will know what the staff requirements for the restructured business will be," said a company spokesperson.

She was commenting after the company unveiled cuts for the workforce of 2,600 which includes the axing of shift pay, cuts in Sunday premium pay and allowances as losses topped €8m last year.

Unions claim the cuts will amount to an overall reduction of up to 30pc in earnings and have threatened strikes that could plunge the entire public transport network into turmoil.

New company figures show average yearly earnings for drivers are €45,554, including overtime, shift pay Sunday duty and expenses, while the overall payroll bill was €130.5m last year.

Last night, a senior union official said he believed that Transport Minister Shane Ross would rather that the company "goes under".

Read More: Bus Éireann: 'Management behaviour putting future of company at risk'

Siptu transport sector organiser Willie Noone described him as a "happy bedfellow" for Fine Gael, which said the company should be privatised in a previous election manifesto.

"Over the last 20 years his ideology was that the semi-states should be wound up," he said. "Pumping money into a semi-state goes against his DNA. Fine Gael can sit back and blame him while he is wringing his hands."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin criticised Mr Ross over his handling of the issue.

"I think he is adopting a Pontius Pilate hands-off approach, which isn't in our view adequate and satisfactory," he said.

In a letter to acting CEO Ray Hernan, general secretary of the Nbru Dermot O'Leary warned that his union had an overwhelming mandate for industrial action up to an all out strike.

He said the union would not accept a company invitation to meet to discuss cuts. Bus Éireann said it would ask the Labour Court to intervene if all unions rejected its invitation. "But this must be over a period of weeks - not months - as our losses are accelerating."

Irish Independent

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