Friday 30 September 2016

Bus unions have 'best legal team' in place to fight case

Published 04/05/2015 | 02:30

Bus drivers on strike outside Busáras Station in Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers
Bus drivers on strike outside Busáras Station in Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers

Union leaders have employed the "best legal team around" to fight Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus as both companies take legal action to recoup millions lost from the two-day strike.

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SIPTU divisional organiser Owen Reidy described the decision to pursue legal action as "spurious", adding that the union has a "top-notch" legal team ready to fight its case.

"Our head of legal rights has already had discussions with our solicitor, and we've a senior counsel lined up if necessary," he told the Irish Independent.

"They're trying to demonise us and their employees - but rest assured we will very vigorously defend our interests.

"They need to cop on and get back to talking rather than suing us. All this is going to do is make things more difficult to resolve. I just wish they'd spend more time, energy, and money, in seeking a resolution, rather than going down the legal route."

Meanwhile, Dermot O'Leary, general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union, said they have been "forced into the legal arena".

"It's very disconcerting that a semi-state company is going to sue the workers' representatives. Is this the way industrial relations is going to be conducted in this country?"

Bus drivers are also planning a stoppage for May 15-16, and a three-day strike on May 29, 30 and 31.

Impasse

Mr Reidy insisted further strike action was likely in June if the impasse continued.

"If we have to resort to two more days that are already planned in the middle of May, we'll be sitting down before those two days to decide on more action. They could be in June . . . this will continue until we get a breakthrough."

He urged management, the National Transport Authority, and the Department of Transport to "put their shoulder to the wheel" and put forward proposals to end the impasse.

Meanwhile, striking bus drivers have held on to their 'double pay' over the bank holiday weekend, due to the timing of their industrial action.

Drivers would have been paid their standard daily rates on both strike days on Friday and Saturday. However, they will be getting double time for working yesterday and today on the bank holiday.

But Mr Reidy insisted the issue of pay had nothing to do with the timing of the strike. "It's a spurious attempt to attack workers who are pretty much on the average industrial wage. That wasn't part of the thinking at all."

A Bus Éireann spokeswoman said legal papers would be lodged tomorrow morning in the Central Office of the High Court.

"There is a real urgency now to get this dispute back to the Labour Relations Commission. Solutions can only be found at the round table and not on the picket line. We are appealing for common sense to prevail."

Irish Independent

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