Friday 9 December 2016

Shane Ross under pressure in Dublin Bus pay dispute

Ryan Nugent

Published 03/09/2016 | 02:30

Transport Minister Shane Ross Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Transport Minister Shane Ross Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Transport Minister Shane Ross has been asked to "unshackle" Dublin Bus and "start doing his job" after pay talks between drivers and the company broke down again.

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Union representatives for the drivers met with Dublin Bus yesterday afternoon.

However, the meeting lasted for less than an hour, with the National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU) describing it as an "exercise in futility".

The latest breakdown in talks means that the planned six days of all-out strike action by drivers is set to go ahead.

The strikes will take place on September 8, 9, 15, 16, 23 and 24.

General Secretary of the NBRU, Dermot O'Leary, said that Minister Ross - who represents the State as the sole shareholder at Dublin Bus - needs to loosen the shackles on the company to allow them to meet with drivers for productive talks that would end the dispute.

Dublin Bus told union representatives that they would not be able to offer pay increases higher than the figure already recommended by the Labour Court. A spokeswoman said this increase is "fair and reasonable".

But drivers previously rejected this offer of 8.2pc over three years - working out at around 2.75pc a year.

Mr O'Leary said the union had not expected an improved pay offer going into the meeting.

"We did advise in advance of our meeting that parading all parties through the door to create what has now transpired to be a false and misleading impression that the issue of pay could be magically resolved was something that staff and commuters would find intolerable," Mr O'Leary said.

"This ritualistic marching of people in and out of buildings - creating an impression that the workers are being intractable - serves no purpose," he added.

Dublin Bus has urged unions to call off the strikes and engage in talks.

A company spokeswoman said that management had advised staff of the "adverse financial implications" of funding any pay increase over and above the Labour Court recommendation.

However, workers were told that Dublin Bus was willing to engage in talks about areas of productivity that would provide cost savings allowing for additional pay increases.

Patience

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil Transport spokesman Robert Troy has hit out at Mr Ross, arguing that he was "not showing any direction" in the dispute and that the public are losing patience with him.

"As many thousands of commuters face chaos in the coming weeks, public patience with Shane Ross is wearing very thin. Fresh from the OCI crisis in Rio, Mr Ross has returned to some sort of roving role as Minister without Portfolio or Responsibility," Mr Troy said.

"He has offered his opinion on a great many issues, but we still have no idea what he is going to do about the huge transport challenges that are emerging."

Mr Ross expressed his frustration that the talks broke down.

"I'm disappointed that despite the intensive efforts of both the company and trade unions, as well as previous efforts facilitated by the WRC and the Labour Court, that commuters will face massive disruption on Thursday and Friday next."

Irish Independent

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