Bus strike averted at 11th hour as sides agree talks
THE threat of strike action at Bus Eireann lifted last night as management and unions agreed to attend talks at the Labour Court to try to resolve their differences.
Commuters had feared disruption from tomorrow as the two sides met for talks yesterday morning.
But just before 9pm, after 12 hours of talks, Bus Eireann said the company and the unions had agreed to attend a Labour Court hearing on the company's revised cost-recovery plan as soon as possible.
The company said it had agreed to defer the implementation of its cost-recovery plan for a short period while the hearing takes place.
The Labour Court decision will be based on the revised proposals. It will not be binding, and unions will then ballot on the issue.
It is understood, however, there was no agreement on substantive matters and it was decided to let the Labour Court decide on them.
Earlier, amid indications that there was progress at the talks, unions were examining a draft management document containing revised proposals on cuts for the company's 2,500 staff. The original cuts, designed to slash €9m from the semi-State company's payroll, were due to come into force from tomorrow.
The National Bus and Rail Union had threatened to strike immediately if this happens, while SIPTU and TSSA planned to picket next Thursday.
Bus Eireann said soaring fuel costs and a 25pc drop in its government subvention meant it faced losses of €16m this year.
Its business recovery plan, unveiled last June, aimed to bring in the changes from August last year but agreement could not be reached.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar welcomed the decision to attend a Labour Court hearing next week.
"I hope that both sides will be able to reach a final resolution in the near future, in the interests of passengers and taxpayers," he said.