Bus Éireann unions halve pay claim as cuts expected
Bus Éireann unions have almost halved their claim for a 21pc pay rise for the troubled semi-state company's 2,600 workers.
The NBRU, Siptu, TSSA, Unite and the TEEU said they wanted at least a wage increase given in a recent deal at Dublin Bus.
The Dublin Bus pay package was worth 11.25pc over three years, or 3.75pc a year, and was roughly the same as a pay rise won by Luas drivers following rolling strikes earlier this year.
Bus Éireann has said it cannot afford pay increases.
Sources revealed a cost-cutting plan to be unveiled next month will recommend pay cuts, the introduction of a new pay scale for recruits at Expressway, and redundancies.
The unions lowered their pay claim in a submission prepared for the Labour Court this week.
"We are to request that the court would at least recommend that Bus Éireann staff should receive similar increases to those which were successfully negotiated at the WRC on behalf of Dublin Bus staff," it said.
Unions initially sought a pay rise of 15pc over three years, and a 6pc pay rise due under an old social partnership agreement.
Transport Minister Shane Ross (inset) this week warned that Bus Éireann could be insolvent in two years, and its Chief Executive Martin Nolan predicted losses of €6m this year mainly due to losses on the Expressway service.
The General Secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers Union, Dermot O'Leary, said the modification of the pay claim "is consistent with unions' view that the CIE 'family' should be treated equally" in terms of "well deserved" pay awards.
He said unions would consult members during January before taking a decision on industrial action to demonstrate their "recognition and willingness" to address the crisis at Bus Éireann.
"However we can not achieve a resolution until such time as all stakeholders apply similar urgency," he said.
Meanwhile, a row erupted over a request for the Oireachtas transport committee to hold a special meeting to discuss the turmoil at Bus Éireann.
The meeting was sought by AAA-PBP deputy Mick Barry.
But committee chairman, Fine Gael's Brendan Griffin, turned it down, instead offering an opportunity to raise the matter at a scheduled meeting next Wednesday in the context of planning the committee's work for next year.
Meanwhile, public sector unions do not expect the Government to foot the full bill to ensure their members get the same treatment as gardaí in a €50m deal immediately but expect some 'gesture' towards it.
Sources said they were hopeful that a pay increase could be agreed at ongoing talks. In October, CPSU leader Eoin Ronayne said a final pay rise of €1,000 due under the Lansdowne Road deal may be brought forward.
The Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will meet the new Public Service Pay Commission on Monday to discuss its demand for the 'acceleration' of the restoration of pay cuts suffered during the crisis.