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Thursday 27 April 2017

Union warns: 'Get set for mother of all transport disputes'

Dermot O'Leary, General Secretary of the NBRU. Photo: Tom Burke
Dermot O'Leary, General Secretary of the NBRU. Photo: Tom Burke

Chai Brady

Bus Éireann staff have been advised to remain on a "war footing" as Monday's strike looks set to go ahead.

Even 11th-hour talks have been described as "nigh on impossible" at resolving the dispute.

"We think it only reasonable that we would alert people to the fact that the complexities of this dispute make reaching a resolution within the period between now and midnight on Sunday extremely difficult if not nigh on impossible," said Dermot O'Leary of the National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU).

There are fears that the strike may affect other transport services, such as Irish Rail and Dublin Bus, as Bus Éireann shares some of their depots and stations.

Last night, Mr O'Leary said: "I am trying to stop the contagion, however I suspect I will not be able to stop the contagion from spreading [to other state transport bodies]," he said.

However, a spokesperson for Irish Rail has confirmed none of its services will be affected come Monday.

A spokesperson for Dublin Bus said it is "working on a contingency plan to ensure all our services operate as normal on Monday. Dublin Bus is not involved in the current dispute in Bus Éireann".

The Broadstone Bus Depot in Dublin is shared by both Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus and it has been suggested by top union officials that it is unlikely union members in other companies will pass the picket. However, action by members of staff, without going through the protocols for industrial action, would be illegal.

Bus Éireann's stance has remained unchanged, saying the "financial situation in Bus Éireann remains critical", adding that the company faces insolvency by May.

It has said the strike action by unions will only accelerate this process and "significantly discommode our customers".

It is committed to re-engaging with the Work Relation Committee, and has said workers should do the same.

But it seems that even if both sides engaged with the WRC a resolution would not be found despite unions saying they are also willing to "play their part" in ending the dispute.

"We remain prepared to engage towards playing our part in resolving the €9m Expressway crisis, however we sense the Bus Éireann Management is geared towards maintaining its race to the bottom agenda of targeting savings of €30m," said Mr O'Leary.

"We have advised our members that they should put themselves on a war footing and be prepared for what will inevitably be the mother of all Public Transport disputes."

Irish Independent

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