Monday 24 July 2017

Passengers face double strike as pay dispute flares up at Dublin Bus

Dermot O'Leary, General Secretary of the NBRU. Photo: Tom Burke
Dermot O'Leary, General Secretary of the NBRU. Photo: Tom Burke

Anne-Marie Walsh

Passengers face the prospect of a double strike at Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann.

Siptu and the NBRU said they would ballot their members if Dublin Bus did not honour an agreement to count new pay rises towards their pensions this week.

They said the company indicated that it was not going to implement a deal that was reached to halt strikes last year, which meant staff would get an 11.25pc pay rise over three years. The unions said they refused a request from the company to extend the time scale to implement the terms of the deal by a month at a meeting last week.

Passengers at Bus Éireann already face the threat of an indefinite all-out strike from February 20 if the company imposes cuts it claims would reduce earnings by an average of 10pc.

There is little sign of a resolution in the dispute after the company confirmed it has not formally withdrawn cost-saving measures to tackle the threat of insolvency off the table. Unions have refused to attend negotiations unless the company rows back on a letter from acting chief executive Ray Hernan outlining cuts including the axing of shift allowances.

If unions hold a ballot at Dublin Bus this week, they would be likely to serve two weeks' notice, so a strike could begin at the end of the month or in early March.

"It couldn't happen by February 20 but relatively shortly after that," said Siptu transport organiser Willie Noone.

"A strike is looking very likely at this moment in time and it appears again that we may have no option but to ballot our members in Dublin Bus for a clear breach of an agreement." Dermot O'Leary, of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), said the union would consult with its Dublin Bus members to decide when it will hold a ballot.

Meanwhile, unions have told Irish Rail they would be prepared to reduce their demand for a 21pc pay rise over three years to the same increase they got at Dublin Bus, worth 3.75pc a year. Unions said the company wanted to talk about productivity and did not make an offer. The dispute has been referred to the Labour Court.

Separately, Siptu said it would consider balloting their FAI staff for industrial action.

Denis Hynes, sector organiser, said yesterday his membership had grown "frustrated" by the FAI's failure to move beyond the 3pc recovered from the historical pay cuts which date back to 2012.

Irish Independent

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