Friday 17 January 2020

Biggest union at Dublin Bus set to back strike action

SIPTUs Owen Reidy. Pic Frank Mc Grath
SIPTUs Owen Reidy. Pic Frank Mc Grath

Anne-Marie Walsh and Niall O'Connor

Drivers at Dublin Bus's biggest union are set to back industrial action in pursuit of a 15pc pay rise in a ballot today.

The prospect of strikes that could cause chaos for up to 334,000 passengers a day will draw closer as Siptu's 1,161 drivers are predicted to vote in favour of work stoppages.

It comes as Transport Minister Shane Ross denied he had been silent on the dispute and insisted it would not be helpful if he intervened right now.

Siptu, which has 1,686 members at Dublin Bus, including drivers, supervisors, craft and clerical workers, will finish balloting all seven grades of staff next week. The Siptu drivers' expected decision will follow a ballot by the second-largest union, the National Bus and Railworkers Union, in favour of industrial action. It wants a pay rise at least as high as the 3.8pc annual increase achieved by Luas drivers.

Siptu has balloted members on industrial action, which would take the form of 24- or 48-hour stoppages or an indefinite strike.

"The feedback from our shop stewards is that it is likely workers will vote in favour of action," said Siptu divisional organiser Owen Reidy (pictured below). "People are determined to bring this to a just solution. They've suffered cuts in earnings up to 5pc."

He said passenger revenues rose by 30pc while the State's subsidy fell by 24pc between 2010 and 2015, but the company still made a profit last year.

Read more: Members of small Dublin Bus union back strike action over pay dispute

Read more: Once bombastic Ross has made scant progress at Transport

However, the Labour Court has said it is too early in the company's recovery to support substantial pay increases.

Mr Reidy said he could understand why the court would say this, but the issue came down to State underfunding.

"It should be investing when passenger numbers are growing," he said. "Workers aren't going to subsidise subsidy cuts."

The ballots come after the unions rejected a Labour Court recommendation for a 2.75pc-a-year pay rise over three years.

Bus drivers' wages are roughly €39,000 a year including premium payments, but tram drivers stand to make up to €53,000 when they get the full benefit of the pay rise.

Minister Ross said it was up to the State mediation bodies to resolve the dispute.

Dublin Bus has said it will wait for the results of the ballots of the remaining unions before considering the outcome.

Irish Independent

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