Time for Ross to set out his views on transport
Published 09/08/2016 | 02:30
There was always an inevitability about strike threats from the National Bus and Railworkers' Union. Once union members saw that the Luas stoppages resulted in a pay rise - albeit smaller than sought - they were set on a similar course of action. A ballot of members in Dublin Bus has now been held and another is under way in Irish Rail. The resulting mandate for industrial strife was entirely predictable.
The workers may indeed have justifiable grievances on pay and pensions which need to be addressed, but it will be the public that will suffer the most in the event of stoppages. And other unions will come under pressure from their members to follow suit, all of which threatens to lead to a winter of industrial discontent. There is never a good time for strikes which result in bigger public-sector pay bills but now is the worst possible, given the economic storm clouds gathering following the unexpected Brexit vote.
The threatened action on the buses and trains raises fundamental questions about Government policy towards public transport, which got little enough attention in the Programme for a Partnership Government. The normally voluble and vociferous Transport Minister Shane Ross has been remarkably silent about his vision for the future of the system. He spent years castigating quangos and particularly CIE but we have no idea how he intends to address some of the legacy issues he has inherited.