Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann vote in 'overwhelming' majority to strike on May 1
Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann trade union members will carry out planned industrial action on the Friday of the upcoming May Bank Holiday.
The workers have voted in an ‘overwhelming’ majority to strike on May 1 against the Government’s plan of bus privatisation.
The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) this afternoon announced the planned industrial action which will take place on International Workers Day.
The strike will include a two-hour protest march to the Dail and similar marches across the country.
The NBRU said today the Government 'in the guise of the National Transport Authority' had 'not moved a jot' in addressing the concerns of bus workers.
In a statement, the union said it will be ‘a day of action against Government plans to tender out 10pc of existing bus routes’.
“Our members in Dublin Bus (92pc) and Bus Eireann (91pc) have given us an overwhelming mandate to challenge this ill-thought out policy, we have today advised Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann the NTA, the Department and the Minister that our members will engage in Industrial Action on the 1st May,” NBRU General Secretary Dermot O'Leary said.
“The details of the action will be communicated to the parties one week in advance but will include a two hour protest march to the Dail from 11am to 1pm, similar protest marches will take place across the country in all major urban centres".
Mr O'Leary continued: “Despite over seven months of discussion at the LRC, the Government, in the guise of the NTA, have not moved a jot in addressing the concerns of bus workers, the NBRU has been consistent in our opposition to the transfer of any current Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann staff to private companies.
“Our concerns in relation to the future of both Companies along with the future of Irish Rail as part of the CIÉ Group have actually been heightened during the LRC Process.
“There is a certain irony in bus workers having to take to the streets to highlight their plight on International Workers Day, a day which is synonymous with the Labour movement throughout the world; we are now calling on the Labour Party to use their position in Government to halt the tendering process, to allow for actual negotiations to take place, a continuation of the current tendering process will inevitably lead to race to the bottom in workers terms and conditions.”
Speaking to Newstalk Lunchtime, Mr Dermot O’Leary said there could be up to 1,700 bus workers marching in Dublin alone on the day.
“[The number] is hard to gauge now, but we represent 1,500 to 1,700 workers in the Dublin area alone,” he said.
“In the Dublin area we will march from Parnell Square to Dail Eireann and there will be similar marches in urban centres across the country in Cork, especially in Waterford because services will be 100pc privatised there if the Government get their way, Limerick and Galway.
“It’s not our intent to discommode the public. Our members quite enjoy driving people to work.
“We picked trying to highlight the jobs that are being hiked off to the private sector.
“We’ve been involved in discussion with the NTA for the last seven months in terms of this policy," he continued.
“We’ve been trying for seven months to dissuade what they’re doing and allow us to negotiate back similar to what we did in 2006.
“I suppose at this stage, we’ve been saying from the get-go, privatising our public sectors just does not work.
“We have a history across Europe, and across the UK especially, of how privatising public services does not work. It costs the taxpayer more in the long run.
“We’ve been here before and we’re just saying stop, let’s go and have the discussion.
“This is about two public companies providing a service and the taxpayer’s money that goes through to subsidising these services will go to the private companies, whatever money the Government will give away will go to these private companies.”
Dessie Ellis, Sinn Fein's transport spokesman, claimed privatisation of a 10th of Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus routes would threaten the future of the companies.
"These companies provide a service that we cannot afford to lose and good jobs which we must protect," he said.
"Their contribution to our society and our economy is immeasurable.
"For every country to be successful, a good place to live and to work, it needs quality transport infrastructure, public transport links and international connectivity."
Mr Ellis said investment in public transport was needed while loss-making routes which are economically and socially important should get government support.
Transport Minister Pascal Donohoe said both Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann were paid over 90 million euro in taxpayer subventions last year along with a further 90 million euro for new buses and fleet upgrades.
"I recently put on record my commitment to securing an increase in the subvention provided to the companies to deliver additional services and increased frequencies for commuters," he said.
"It is my strong belief that such taxpayer support for improved bus services should be given in conjunction with a degree of competition and I am committed to the tendering of 10% of bus routes being implemented by the National Transport Authority."
He added: "It must be noted that both Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann are open to compete for the routes being put out to tender."