Wednesday 28 September 2016

Bus strike: Management of Bus Eireann & Dublin Bus and unions summoned to Labour Relations Commission

Louise Kelly & Caroline Crawford

Published 30/04/2015 | 12:06

Early morning commuter traffic has been severely affected as a result of the crash
Early morning commuter traffic has been severely affected as a result of the crash

The Taoiseach has appealed to bus unions to avert the looming strike insisting that going ahead with it will “serve nobody’s interest”.

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Mr Kenny said he saw no need for the planned strike adding he hoped common sense would prevail.

“I hope that common sense plays out here, there is no need for this planned strike, no reason whatsoever that it should happen,” he said.

Speaking at the launch of the HP Innovation Centre in Galway, Mr Kenny said the Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe and the companies involved, Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus, had made "every conceivable effort" to set out that nobody was under any duress as a result of the proposed legislation.

He warned the strike would “disrupt hundreds of thousands of passengers for no reason”.

“This is not a case of privatisation, it is a case of showing that in the customers interest that Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus are able to tender themselves for the small percentage of routes involved and that’s in the customers interest.

Bus strike: Do you think Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus drivers are right to take action?

Bus strike: Do you think Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus drivers are right to take action?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Dublin Bus drivers 0% Yes
  • Commuter traffic 0% No

“So I do hope that common sense will prevail and that the indications made by the Minister will be followed through by the unions. And I would appeal to them at this late stage to go in there to the Labour Relations Commission and avert this strike planned from midnight tonight. It will serve nobody’s interest in going ahead with it,” he added.

The Labour Relations Commission (LRC) has summoned management of Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann and the unions to exploratory talks this afternoon.

The move could be a breakthrough as strike action by union members at the two companies looms.

It's understood the Minster for Transport, Sport and Tourism Pascal O'Donohoe has agreed to make his officials available if required before the LRC over the next couple of hours.

Bus drivers at the two companies are due to go on strike tomorrow and Saturday.

​​If the planned industrial action proceeds, bus lanes will remain closed to regular commuters struggling to make their way to work tomorrow as the 48-hour bus strike begins.

"We will be treating regular commuters using the bus lanes on Friday as a traffic infringement," a garda spokesperson told Independent.ie.

"Bus lanes will still only be available for use by taxis and private bus services, as normal."

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe also dashed hopes of those planning on taking their cars to work with ease in the morning. 

"Bus lanes are preserved for public transport," the minister told Newstalk Breakfast this morning.

Read more: Bus strike: AA warns commuters to 'plan ahead' for 'difficult day' on Friday

Traffic mayhem is set to hit nationwide tomorrow as drivers at Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann plan to go ahead with a two-day strike as part of a dispute over the privatisation of routes.

Hundreds of thousands of commuters - trying to get to work and making their way to the airport for flights - are expected to be impacted this bank holiday weekend as these bus services will not be operating on either Friday (May 1) or Saturday (May 2).

Dublin City Council has been contacted by Independent.ie earlier this week for a response on whether parking in the city centre will be made available at reduced rates on the affected days.

According to a DCC spokesperson today, a comment is still being drawn up ahead of the planned strike in the morning.

Read more: SIPTU drivers at Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann to strike for four days in May

Arwen Foley of AA Roadwatch has already warned commuters to "plan ahead" for a "difficult day".

"The Swords road can be very traffic heavy at the best of times. But those heading to the airport should plan ahead and start off much earlier than usual," said Arwen Foley. The N7 Naas road can also expect additional delays," she told independent.ie.

"All the commuter routes to Dublin - from Louth, Kildare, Wicklow, Wexford and Laois - will be extremely heavy."

A number of private bus services operating across city and national routes are expecting a surge in demand over the two days, but particularly on Friday. 

"We will have additional coaches on standby, essentially reacting to events.  First preference will have to ​go to existing passengers but we will do our best to cater for everyone that needs it," Director of Swords Express and Eirebus, Sinead Kavanagh, told independent.ie.

Read more: Commuters won't like it - but drivers are right to strike

To add to the weekend public transport commotion, Irish Rail will be carrying out line improvement works as part of "essential maintenance".

The national train service has advised customers travelling from Dublin's Heuston Station to re-check their departure times before travelling.

Dart services north of Connolly station as far as Malahide will not be operating at all on Sunday and Monday of the bank holiday weekend. 

According to an Irish Rail spokesperson, Dundalk Drogheda and Belfast services will operate instead from Malahide Dart station and Dublin Bus will be accepting valid rail tickets in affected areas.

Those looking for alternative means of transport in the next few days also suffer the blow of increased taxi fares as prices have risen an average of 4pc as of today.

Read more: Bus Strike: Unions have €20m cash fund to cover bus workers' pay for two day stoppage

While the standard taxi charge (between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday) will drop from €4.10 to €3.60, this will now be set at €4 for premium periods (between 8pm and 8am) and on Sundays and bank holidays.

In addition, the charge per km travelled will increase from €1.03 to €1.10 (€1.40 at premium times) and from €1.45 to €1.75 for journeys over 15km. 

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