Union on warpath over Bus Eireann's €20m cuts
A MAJOR Bus Eireann union has threatened to ballot for industrial action if its 2,500 workers' allowances, sick leave and holidays are slashed.
The National Bus and Rail Union, representing almost half the workforce, reacted angrily to a new plan unveiled by the semi-state company to make €20m savings a year.
Bus Eireann's 'Programme for Recovery' aims to reduce payroll costs by €9m by changing employees' terms and conditions as it faces €16m losses this year.
It was revealed yesterday as the final company in the CIE trio, Dublin Bus, got set to outline a similar cost-cutting plan to its 3,253 workers tomorrow.
Tomorrow's announcement will come just a week after Irish Rail announced 450 voluntary redundancies.
Bus Eireann said it was in financial crisis after suffering a €6m cut to its state subsidy, a 20pc fall in customers, increased competition, and a €4m hike in fuel costs. It has set an August 13 deadline to bring in the new measures.
But the chief executive of the National Bus and Rail Union, Michael Faherty, last night warned that the union would not negotiate on proposals to axe shift allowances and cut sick leave and holidays.
"Bus Eireann is in dreamland. It's not going to happen. It is part and parcel of pay and would mean a 17pc cut in wages," he said.
He ruled out talks on annual leave and sick leave because he said the same terms applied to all workers in the CIE Group, and the union wouldn't single out separate worker groups.
But Bus Eireann showed no sign of backing down yesterday as it warned that deeper cuts would be on the way if the measures were not accepted.
In a letter to staff, chief executive Martin Nolan warned they may lose their jobs or face pay cuts if they did not accept the plan. He said the cuts were crucial so it could keep running as many routes as possible for customers.
"We have no immediate plans to reduce basic pay nor for any redundancies; however, this is dependent on the successful implementation of the plan," he said.
Among the new proposals are cuts to their overtime, holidays, premium payments, expenses and sick leave and an increase in the working week.