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Saturday 24 June 2017

Travel chaos from next week with Bus Éireann set for all-out strike

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

All-out strike action at Bus Éireann could begin next Monday, with management meeting today to discuss pushing ahead with €12m in cost-cutting proposals.

It comes after talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) between the ­company and unions broke down last week.

Bus Éireann board members have scheduled a meeting for noon today, after which it is understood staff will be notified about what happens next.

The most likely outcome is that workers will be told the cuts are going ahead from March 6.

This would result in ­workers immediately notifying the ­company of their intention to begin strike action on that date.

Last week, Siptu told its members to get ready for a "hard battle and struggle" during an all-out strike.

In a 'strike notice update', it warned industrial action is unlikely to end "in the short term".

Preparations for the strike have already begun, with banners and placards distributed over the weekend to garages around the country.

It is understood that the company has red-circled 120 jobs to go - 60 managerial, executive and clerical roles, 40 engineering and maintenance positions, and 20 inspectors - although it is unclear how many drivers will be affected.

Read more: 'I need the bus to get to hospital' - Meet the people affected if Bus Éireann strike goes ahead

Acting chief executive Ray Hernan has been finalising the cuts as the semi-state company faces insolvency in May.

Transport Minister Shane Ross has said he will not get involved in the dispute.

He said calls for him to intervene were an attempt to force him "to produce the chequebook".

"It would be wrong for a ­minister to become involved in an industrial dispute and I ­intend to stay out of the ­industrial dispute as long as it goes on," he said.

Mr Ross said he hoped a resolution could be found between the unions and management.

Thousands of ­commuters face travel chaos with no ­solution to the dispute in sight.

It has also been suggested that Irish Rail workers at six depots shared with Bus Éireann may refuse to pass the picket line - causing further disruption for commuters.

However, any such action would be a matter of conscience and the unions involved have not issued any instructions.

Irish Rail has also played down that possibility.

Meanwhile, an examination of the annual reports of the semi-state have revealed how net staff costs more than ­doubled during the boom years.

In 1999, staff costs at the company were the equivalent of €65.8m for its average of 2,462 employees at the time.

Increased

By 2008, as the boom was coming to an end, net staff costs had increased to €142.2m for an average of 2,837 employees - an overall increase of €76.4m.

In the following years of austerity, net staff costs had decreased by €11.7m in 2015 to €130.5m.

It means net staff costs increased by 107pc in the boom years, and decreased by around 8pc following the crash.

The strike action had originally been scheduled to take place from February 20, but was deferred to allow for talks at the WRC.

Three days of negotiations took place, however, it is understood there was very little progress.

Irish Independent

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