Wednesday 13 December 2017

All-out Bus Éireann strike likely next week as company finalises cuts

Dermot O’Leary of the National Bus and Railworkers’ Union
Dermot O’Leary of the National Bus and Railworkers’ Union

Anne-Marie Walsh

Bus Éireann passengers may face an all-out strike as early as next week as the company will today tell staff that Monday is D-Day for it to sign off on cuts to stave off insolvency.

It is also likely to set dates to axe or reduce services on five routes at the meeting.

Management will issue a letter to its 2,600 workers telling them today that the board will rubber-stamp changes to work practices and efficiencies at the meeting.

Unions are likely to respond by announcing that their members will take to the picket lines.

They have already warned that a campaign of industrial action could spread to all the CIÉ companies as colleagues take supportive unofficial action and refuse to turn up for work. School bus drivers may also join the industrial action.

Today's letter is being issued as relations between management and unions soured following a last-ditch bid to resume talks.

Last week, Bus Éireann offered to engage in "time limited" talks. It asked unions to accept that savings of €5m a year are achievable by reducing driver overtime by an average of three hours a week.

In return, it said it would make commitments on drivers' terms and conditions.

It said inefficiencies had resulted in unnecessary overtime and staff employed "who are now surplus to our business requirements".

In response, the general secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers' Union, Dermot O'Leary, said his union would leave it to the Workplace Relations Commission to decide whether there should be further talks.

Siptu transport sector organiser Willie Noone said the union would commit to efficiencies, but said payroll reductions must come from agreements and "not from any dictates".

Meanwhile, Unite, which represents craft workers at Bus Éireann, said it was surprised at the management's "high-risk" strategy. It warned that any move to unilaterally impose cuts was likely to trigger strike action.

"The board is due to sign off on the company's accounts next Monday, and we would urge management to use the window before this deadline to continue engaging with unions rather than imposing cuts unilaterally," said regional officer Willie Quigley.

Irish Independent

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