Saturday 24 February 2018

Bus Eireann facing losses of €10m as services look set to resume over Easter

Stock photo
Stock photo
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Bus Éireann is facing a loss of more than €10 million as the all-out strike action enters its 21st day.

A spokesperson for Bus Éireann said that the loss of fare box revenue and National Transport Authority fines has been estimated at a cost of €500,000 per day.

After almost three weeks of strike action, the company has recorded a loss so far of €10,500,000.

The figure doesn't include refunds for customers with monthly and annual tickets, as Bus Éireann say they will not know the overall cost until the strike action ceases.

Workers are understood to be losing an average of €898 a week in wages during the strike.

Sources at the Labour Court have confirmed that it will issue a recommendation to resolve the dispute by lunchtime.

Unions have told the court they will suspend industrial action when the recommendation is issued to ballot their members on the proposal.

However, buses will not be up and running immediately and may not be on the roads until Friday.

Sources said this was for operational reasons and batteries may need to be recharged after being out of action for so long.

General Secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers Union (NBRU) Dermot O'Leary said pickets would remain in place today.

O'Leary said that Bus Éireann have displayed "outright brass-neckery by attempting to paint our members in a bad light" by implying that they would not cooperate with a return to work before the issuing of the Labour Court Recommendation, this despite the fact that Bus Éireann management were present at the Court when the request to lift Pickets was accepted by all five Unions".

The strike has already hit passengers on Dublin Bus and rail services when some workers took unofficial industrial action by refusing to pass unofficial pickets.

Read More: 'My mental wellbeing is affected, it's gone on too long'

More than 1,900 workers mounted pickets almost three weeks ago when Bus Éireann announced it would impose cuts to reduce its payroll bill by €12m.

The Labour Court intervened after a third set of talks to resolve the dispute collapsed at the Workplace Relations Commission earlier this week.

Bus Éireann's acting chief executive Ray Hernan has warned that the commercial semi-state company faces insolvency next month, mainly due to losses in its Expressway division.

It is understood that agreement had been reached on 240 voluntary redundancies and work practice efficiencies at talks, but there was disagreement over new pay rates.

Management sought to consolidate basic pay, overtime and premium pay into a single rate.

Union and management representatives arriving at the Labour Court in Dublin yesterday expressed hope that the dispute will be resolved.

Siptu transport division organiser Greg Ennis indicated that any recommendation would result in workers resuming work while a ballot was organised. He acknowledged that the Easter weekend was very important to the travelling public and said: "Easter travel is a key point in time for the company and our members."

Mr Ennis said it would take at least eight hours to get services running again.

He said the court was seeking clarification from the parties on a range of issues and they were hoping to get the earliest possible recommendation.

"Whether that's today or tomorrow, that's a matter for the court," he said.

"The pickets will remain in place. Our members are resolute, steadfast. We're day 20 into a strike. It's protracted. It's affecting the travelling public as much as our own members."

NBRU's Dermot O'Leary said the court could not be pressured to issue recommendations.

He said pay will be an issue for staff as well as their workload.

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