Wednesday 24 May 2017

How bus strike is handled will set tone for entire public-sector issue

Andrea Layala Valladolid from Spain, stranded due to bus workers strike. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Andrea Layala Valladolid from Spain, stranded due to bus workers strike. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
John Downing

John Downing

WHEN the buses stop running, it's more than a clue that all is not well. And there is a serious risk that, by the end of this week, we could be heading back to the future – back to the industrial relations horror that was Ireland of the 1970s and 1980s.

Efforts to salvage something from the wreckage of the Croke Park II on public-service pay hang by a thread as Labour Relations Commission boss Kieran Mulvey reports on his three weeks of talks with unions to Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin today.

As a new week starts on a fairly negative tone, there is a sense that many issues that have been too long pushed to one side are now confronting us. There is now a sense that these issues are taking us head-on. The Bus Eireann dispute is not part of Croke Park II but it is linked to a general public-sector problem. It is a difficult one as the management has for almost a year pointed up the need to halt cumulative losses of €27m over the past five years with a cost-saving package.

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