Tuesday 6 December 2016

Ross refuses to intervene as more strike chaos planned

Published 16/09/2016 | 02:30

Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.
Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.

Transport Minister Shane Ross is digging in his heels and refusing to intervene in the Dublin Bus strikes causing chaos in the capital.

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Unions representing workers at the semi-state have announced 13 more days of industrial action, on top of six which are already under way.

Management has been told every week of October will see strike action, while staff will also down tools on Saturday 29, the bank holiday weekend.

Strikes have been organised for three days on that week alone, including October 24 and 26 - Monday and Wednesday.

However, Mr Ross (inset) has once again washed his hands of the issue, because it could be seen as a commitment to solve the issue from exchequer funds.

"Minister Ross greatly regrets the grave inconvenience caused to the travelling public by this ongoing dispute," a statement said yesterday.

"He is acutely aware of calls for him to directly intervene but must reiterate, that as any ministerial intervention could be interpreted as a commitment to open the State chequebook, it would be inappropriate for him to do so. He again calls on management and the unions to engage with each other immediately," it added.

It's estimated that if all the strikes go ahead as planned, it will cost businesses in the city and the company itself a combined €65m by the end of October.

Business group Dublin Town estimated that each day of bus strikes costs at least €2.5m in lost spending in the city centre from commuters who decide not to travel.

And the cost to Dublin Bus, including €600,000 in lost business, €200,000 in fines from the NTA and €110,000 in Leap Card refunds, is around €910,000 a day.

However, that figure is conservative, with the company putting the cost closer to €1m a day.

Mr Ross's inaction has led to an increase in tensions, with bus workers deciding to ramp up their industrial action following a meeting of unions.

The possibility of an indefinite, all-out strike was discussed. However, it was decided instead that staff, including drivers, maintenance and office workers, would down tools on a staggered basis.

Representatives from the National Bus and Railway Union (NBRU), Siptu, Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) and Unite were involved in the meeting.

Strikes, affecting up to 400,000 commuters a day, took place last Thursday and Friday, yesterday and today. Unions already announced two further strike days next Friday and Saturday.

In a statement, Dublin Bus confirmed it had received notification from the unions of further strike action.

The company said it would assess the full implications of the announcement.

Dermot O'Leary, general secretary of the NBRU, said it was "unfortunate" that those responsible for providing a public transport service for the citizens of Dublin would not engage with bus workers.

He said Dublin Bus staff were "long overdue" a pay rise and placing preconditions on staff representatives ahead of any third party intervention would hamper talks.

Irish Independent

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