Bus drivers threaten to strike over radio row
Drivers at Dublin Bus have threatened to ballot for industrial action if management continue to discipline workers who are opposing a ban on listening to the radio while driving.
The company recently banned its drivers from tuning into radio stations while driving as part of a new "zero tolerance" policy.
The National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU) has already written to management to inform them it has advised its members not to use the Port Tunnel from next Tuesday for health and safety reasons.
The union argued that the radio ban meant that, in an emergency situation, its members would be unable to tune into FM radio stations to hear safety instructions "as per the safety and user guide" for the tunnel.
However, the situation is on the verge of escalating after union officials warned that industrial action would "kick in" if Dublin Bus continues to sanction drivers who defied the radio ban.
"A number of our members have already been notified that they have been 'booked' or recorded as being entered into the disciplinary process as a result of their actions in opposing this hair-brained policy," said NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary.
"Our members and their representatives will not be cooperating on these disciplinary cases. Any mandated industrial action would kick in if Dublin Bus would decide to apply sanctions on our members," he added.
"Whilst it will be for the Dublin Bus branch of our union to ultimately decide on the type of industrial action which they would undertake should Dublin Bus up the ante, our members are determined that they will not be forced to stop buses and discommode a supportive travelling public as a result of this ludicrous ban on transistor radios," said Mr O'Leary.
The new policy prevents drivers from using any electronic devices, including radios and mobile phones, while driving.
It is understood that up to 90pc of drivers use radios, but sources said even greater numbers brought them in to work earlier this week "as an act of defiance".
Drivers have already refused to cooperate with central control after the ban began on Monday.
Their refusal to connect with the control room could weaken management's control of the service.
For instance, drivers could not be instructed to take alternative routes if there was an accident ahead. The control centre would also be unaware if drivers took their breaks late.
In addition, it could not instruct drivers to travel straight to a terminus without picking up passengers to make up for time lost over a delay.