Tuesday 21 November 2017

Another day of unexpected cancellations as bus passengers face chaos amid new threat of strikes

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Dermot O'Leary

Anne-Marie Walsh

Bus Éireann passengers face more chaos with further service cancellations and delays now coupled with the threat of industrial action.

At least 16 bus services were cancelled yesterday due to a high number of drivers calling in sick, according to Bus Éireann.

This meant that commuters were left without services with little or no notice - with claims that patients missed hospital appointments and students in Meath missed lectures in Dublin City University.

The disruption could escalate as a major union has threatened that the company will face a "major flashpoint or standoff" on October 29 unless it engages in talks on the rollout of new rosters.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary Picture: Mark Condren
NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary Picture: Mark Condren

Bus Éireann also said that 12pc of drivers in the east of the country were calling in sick, which is a significant increase on the norm. A spokesperson said this was among a number of factors that meant trips in the east were not operating to schedule.

An update issued yesterday morning announced the cancellation of two services on route 12, four on route 109A, two on the NX, and eight on route 103 between Dublin and Ratoath.

Meanwhile, the NBRU is claiming there are issues with the roster, including working days of more than 12 hours in some instances and personal security concerns for drivers who have to change duties in remote areas.

This morning two services in the eastern region are facing disruption:

The 08.25am Dunshaughlin to Dublin service (services from Dunshaughlin to Dublin will operate at 08.05am and 08.55am).

The 06.45am Dublin to Kildare via Celbridge and Clane is also cancelled but a service will operate from Celbridge at 07.15am.

In a letter to the company, seen by the Irish Independent, the National Bus and Railworkers' Union warned there would be mayhem if the company continued to implement temporary rosters.

"The boards (rosters), albeit temporary, introduced at Broadstone on Sunday last are an insult," said the letter from general secretary Dermot O'Leary to chief executive Ray Hernan.

"They are downright shoddy. They do not remotely resemble any schedule we have ever seen, and, believe me, we have seen some appalling anti-staff rosters in our time. There is now an immediate requirement for the company to engage with the trade unions on all aspects of board/roster compilation. The alternative is a major flashpoint/standoff on October 29."

It is understood that October 29 is a company deadline to begin the rollout of permanent rosters.

Bus Éireann spokesperson John Sheridan said it recently introduced rosters for 400 driving staff along the M3 corridor.

He said that due to "unforeseen operational difficulties" some trips in the east were not operating to schedule.

"Bus Éireann would like to sincerely apologise for the inconvenience to passengers," he said. "Efforts are being made to ensure services operate to schedule."

He said the company was engaged in talks with unions regarding the rosters, which are part of a Workplace Relations Commission recommendation.

The recommendation was made to end a dispute that led to strikes earlier this year. He noted that unions voted to accept the recommendation.

He said the rosters must be implemented to cut costs as it tries to address losses and "reverse the ongoing insolvent financial position".

Irish Independent

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