Tuesday 30 May 2017

Strike looms at Dublin Bus as pay rise offer falls short of Luas deal

Dermot O'Leary of the National Bus and Railworkers' Union Photo: Frank McGrath
Dermot O'Leary of the National Bus and Railworkers' Union Photo: Frank McGrath

Anne-Marie Walsh

The threat of a Dublin Bus strike is looming after unions predicted their members will reject the offer of a 2.75pc-a-year pay rise as it falls short of a recent deal with Luas workers.

The Labour Court has recommended an 8.25pc pay rise over three years, or 2.75pc a year to January 2018, in a decision just issued.

And it says each grade of staff should enter talks with Dublin Bus with a view to increasing their pay further in return for productivity measures.

But the two main unions at the State-owned company, Siptu and the National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU), have warned that industrial action may be imminent as the pay rise fails to meet expectations.

The unions will now ballot their members on the court's recommendation.

The NBRU sought a pay hike of 31pc to take account of a pay rise recently awarded to Luas drivers and an increase under a previous social partnership deal that was not paid.

The Luas deal, which ended months of strikes, was worth 18pc up to 2020 or almost 4pc a year.

Siptu organiser John Murphy said there is a "strong possibility" of industrial action if the State-owned company does not make a better offer, as the proposed pay hike is likely to be rejected by his members.

And the General Secretary of the NBRU, Dermot O'Leary, said he could not rule out "the spectre of industrial action".

Mr O'Leary said his 1,450 members are unlikely to be happy with the pay hike as they want a similar increase to Luas drivers.

Treatment

"It is disappointing that the court has apparently decided not to follow its own guide in not awarding a similar increase of at least 3.8pc per year, which it awarded to others in the same transport sector as recently as last month in settling the Transdev dispute," said Mr O'Leary.

"We went on record in advance of the resolution of the Luas dispute indicating quite clearly that we would expect similar treatment with regards to bus and rail workers.

"We cannot rule out the spectre of industrial action in the coming weeks and months should they reject this recommendation."

The recommendation by Labour Court Deputy Chairman Brendan Hayes says pay rises should be backdated to January 1 this year and the deal will expire on December 31, 2018.

Pay increases of 2.75pc should be given on January 1 each year from this year to 2018.

It says the pay rises reflect "the acknowledged contribution of the workers, by way of cost-saving measures, to the company's recent recovery".

Mr Hayes says Dublin Bus is emerging from a deep recession during which the number of workers was cut, wages were "suppressed" and productivity increased significantly to ensure the survival of the business.

He said passenger numbers are on the rise after a period of continual decline and fares have also gone up.

But his recommendation says the recovery is in its infancy and must be allowed to develop further before the company could support significant wage increases.

Dublin Bus said it will fully consider the recommendation.

Irish Independent

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