Wednesday 18 January 2017

Passengers face havoc as bus union seeks united strike action

Anne Marie Walsh

Published 10/08/2016 | 02:30

The proposed strikes would affect up to 334,000 Dublin Bus passengers a day and may take place towards the end of the month
The proposed strikes would affect up to 334,000 Dublin Bus passengers a day and may take place towards the end of the month

The National Bus and Railworkers' Union has written to the four "sister unions" at Dublin Bus urging them to meet and co-ordinate a campaign of industrial action when ballots finish next week.

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These unions include Siptu, the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) and Unite.

The proposed strikes would affect up to 334,000 Dublin Bus passengers a day and may take place towards the end of the month as workers pursue at least the same pay rise as Luas drivers.

Fears are growing that work stoppages may take place as schools reopen after the summer holidays - causing havoc for pupils and parents.

The national executive committee of the National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU) has warned that "nothing short of actual strike action" will bring a resolution of their members' claim for a significant pay rise.

The national executive met yesterday to discuss options including a no fares day and strikes to win a wage increase of at least the 3.8pc a year Luas drivers achieved recently. The meeting was held after its members backed industrial action by 96pc.

But it decided that soft options should be abandoned and unions should present a united front to co-ordinate what they said would be "the inevitable industrial action required" as the company remains silent on new talks.

The meeting came after members of the union rejected a Labour Court recommendation that they get a wage hike worth 2.75pc a year each year for three years.

They want the same increase as the tram drivers as the first part of a mission to achieve a 31pc increase in wages that would give them equal pay.

Bus drivers' wages are roughly €39,000 a year including shift and premium payments, but tram drivers stand to make up to €53,000 after the pay increase they won two months ago.

The NBRU is the second largest union at the bus company with 1,432 members, who are mainly drivers.

Dublin Bus' largest union, Siptu, is still balloting its members in seven grades on industrial action, including strike action. It has urged them to reject the Labour Court proposal.

United

Siptu, which has 1,686 members at Dublin Bus including drivers, supervisors, craft and clerical workers, will reveal its ballot result next Tuesday.

In his letter addressed to "sister unions" at Dublin Bus, NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary offered to meet to discuss a "co-ordinated, united industrial action response" to advance the issue of pay.

"I am to suggest that desire of all staff to expedite what appears to be the obvious next step of moving towards the unfortunate, but necessary industrial action is a challenge we are obliged to meet sooner rather than later," he said.

The unions argue that staff are angry and want an improvement in their pay packets after eight years of austerity, which included pay cuts and voluntary redundancies.

Irish Independent

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