Tuesday 27 September 2016

Pupils face bus strike as Irish Rail talks make progress

Anne-Marie Walsh

Published 20/08/2016 | 02:30

Unions Siptu, the NBRU and TSSA have balloted in favour of industrial action in pursuit of a 15pc pay rise
Unions Siptu, the NBRU and TSSA have balloted in favour of industrial action in pursuit of a 15pc pay rise

Schoolchildren face the prospect of September bus strikes as unions prepare to serve notice of industrial action - but there has been a breakthrough in a long-running row at Irish Rail.

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Industrial action that could disrupt services for up to 334,000 passengers a day loom at Dublin Bus as unions are unlikely to serve notice in time to take action this month.

Unions Siptu, the NBRU and TSSA have balloted in favour of industrial action in pursuit of a 15pc pay rise but unions, including Unite, have yet to issue results.

The bigger unions could serve notice at any point, but it is understood they are holding off so they can coordinate a campaign of industrial action with the other unions.

Sources said a meeting of all of the unions is unlikely to take place until the end of next week, and they will announce their intentions early the following week

They are legally obliged to give Dublin Bus seven days notice of industrial action.

Threatened

The workers want a 15pc pay rise, paid in instalments of 5pc a year over three years.

However, a dispute at Irish Rail that threatened to bring services to a standstill may be resolved, as unions brokered a deal to reduce drivers' working week from 48 hours to 39.

Read more: Once bombastic Ross has made scant progress at Transport

The proposal negotiated at the Workplace Relations Commission, seen by the Irish Independent, says the company is committed to move towards a 39-hour week if a new rostering system is set up that includes increased weekend cover.

But in a notice to members yesterday, the NBRU and Siptu say that any reversal of commitments to cut the working week could yet lead to industrial action, by the first week in September.

The unions halted ballots for industrial action after being invited to talks.

"Both trade unions have made it abundantly clear that the die is essentially cast regarding commitments on the working week," says the message from NBRU chief Dermot O'Leary and Paul Cullen of Siptu.

Reversal

"Any reversal on such commitments will, possibly as early as next week, result in the reactivation of our balloting process, which mandate permitting, may result in industrial action by the first week in September."

However, the message says significant progress has been made in getting them to a point where the reduction of the working week is a "live and distinct possibility".

The Workplace Relations Commission proposal says the company indicated the pension costs associated with reducing the working week has the potential to reach around €6m plus.

This is due to an increase in the workers' hourly pay rate.

But the unions said this issue had been "wrestled from our control" as separate talks on the CIE pension schemes will take place at the end of the month.

Irish Independent

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