Thursday 25 May 2017

Dublin Bus and Irish Rail sue NBRU for lost income following wildcat strikes

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary. Photo: Andy Jay
NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary. Photo: Andy Jay
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Dublin Bus and Irish Rail are suing the National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU) for the losses they suffered due to unofficial wildcat strike action.

The legal action has arisen as a result of secondary picketing by Bus Éireann workers last Friday, in a dispute with management over cuts and cost-saving measures.

Thousands of commuters were inconvenienced when, without warning, pickets were placed at Dublin Bus and Irish Rail depots.

"Irish Rail and Dublin Bus have sent a letter to NBRU by email, with hard copy to follow, signalling intention to take legal proceedings against the union to recover losses from Friday, estimated in hundreds of thousands," a spokesman for CIÉ said.

Read more: 'Outrageous' disruption could cost economy millions of euro, say businesses

The spokesman said all "necessary steps" would be taken to prevent further secondary pickets, including seeking a court injunction.

It is understood CIÉ claimed it has evidence of the involvement of the union in the unofficial picketing - something which the NBRU has robustly denied.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary told the Irish Independent he was aware of the threat of legal action following last week's secondary pickets.

"We're expecting a letter. Any allegations in relation to official NBRU involvement we'll pass over to our legal team for comprehensive review," he said.

He declined to speculate on whether further wildcat strike action would be organised in the course of the ongoing dispute.

Siptu organiser Willie Noone said that his union had not received a letter from Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann, nor did it expect to get one.

He said it was unlikely talks to find a resolution could take place in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), if there was still the threat of secondary picketing.

Picketing

The dispute was high on the agenda at the national conference of the People Before Profit party, which took place yesterday. Two bus drivers spoke at the conference, defending the secondary picketing.

NBRU member Sean Thunder said the workers did not earn huge wages and that if the cuts went through he'd be better off on the dole.

"We want an honest day's pay for an honest day's work," he said.

Referring to the secondary pickets that caused travel chaos last week, Mr Thunder said he was making no apologies, other than to the individual commuters.

"What happened, and it was the drivers themselves that organised it, it had to happen," he said.

Siptu member John North said drivers were worried about their jobs, but wouldn't be treated "like doormats" by the management.

"CIÉ as a group, we can't be done away with," he said.

Mr North said the action on Friday was an inconvenience, but called on people to support the bus workers.

"It was an inconvenience to the people on the Dart and those people that cannot think for themselves and actually say 'you know what? Let's get behind these people'," he said.

The party said it would set up a fund to help the striking drivers.

Irish Independent

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