Friday 30 September 2016

Bus drivers threaten bank holiday chaos with full-day strike

Published 14/04/2015 | 02:30

National Bus and Rail Union general secretary Dermot O’Leary
National Bus and Rail Union general secretary Dermot O’Leary

Bus drivers may "ramp up" their work stoppage on May 1 to a full-day strike, bringing chaos to commuters and those travelling for the bank holiday.

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Drivers around the country will participate in a two-hour work stoppage, over the proposed privatisation of 10pc of routes, on that Friday.

But senior sources have indicated that they may "ramp it up" to a full day of strike action, despite receiving a stark warning from bus companies and Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) announced the results of a ballot for industrial action, as 92pc of their members in Dublin Bus and 91pc in Bus Éireann voted in favour of participating in action on May 1, also International Workers Day.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary said they will communicate the details of the action to the parties one week in advance.

But it is set to include nationwide demonstrations from workers between 11am to 1pm, with the biggest march likely to be held in Dublin. It has also been indicated this action may "progress to a full day" of strike action.

Siptu said it will consider issuing a notice of "substantial industrial action" if their concerns "have not been adequately addressed at meetings with other stakeholders" by Friday, April 24.

Siptu organiser Owen Reidy said they believe a one-day work stoppage "may not achieve our aim of protecting our members' terms and conditions". More than 90pc of their members, in both companies, last week voted in favour of taking industrial and strike action.

This long-running dispute stems from opposition to Government plans to privatise 10pc of bus routes which are currently operated by State-owned Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus.

The Government has agreed to open up some routes to a tendering process in order to comply with EU directives.

The two unions left discussions with the companies, the National Transport Authority and the Department of Transport at the Labour Relations Commission last month.

Mr O'Leary of the NBRU said their main concerns revolve around job security and they fear that further routes could be privatised. He said they felt "they couldn't get any traction at all around the concerns of our members".

Minister Paschal Donohoe last night renewed his commitment to opening the routes up to public tender, adding that both companies are eligible to compete in the process.

Focus

Mr Donohoe described the decision of the two unions to withdraw from the discussions as "disappointing" as he felt they were "making significant progress".

"There was particular focus on facilitating the vast majority of employees to remain in either Dublin Bus or Bus Éireann if either company did not succeed in the tendering process," he added.

"This was on the basis of growth in bus frequencies on the routes remaining with Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann.

"The talks were also focused on protecting the terms and conditions of any employees who do transfer to other operators and it was made clear during the discussions that their pensions provisions would also be maintained."

Dublin Bus last night said that it is "strongly urging the trade unions not to take any action that could have a negative impact on customers".

Bus Éireann said "it is regrettable that drivers will withdraw from work during this busy bank holiday period".

Irish Independent

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