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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Bus Eireann looks to Labour Court to avoid all out strike

Savings: Bus Éireann’s acting chief executive Ray Hernan. Photo: Kieran Harnett
Savings: Bus Éireann’s acting chief executive Ray Hernan. Photo: Kieran Harnett

Anne Marie Walsh

Bus Eireann and unions will attend a meeting at the Labour Court this afternoon as the company faces the threat of an all-out strike over a drastic survival plan.

The National Bus and Railworkers Union said it has accepted an invitation from the court to meet to "provide some clarity on some of the conjecture surrounding the status of this dispute".

Siptu has also said that it will attend the meeting.

The move comes after the company said earlier today that it is seeking the court's help after unions refused to attend talks on cuts. They claim the cuts will reduce the pay of the company's 2,600 workers by up to 30pc . 

In a statement this morning, the commercial semi state company said it was a "very regrettable situation" that unions had not turned up for a meeting they were invited to at Broadstone in Dublin this morning to discuss cuts to earnings.

"We require leadership from all sides to ensure meaningful discussions can commence," said the company in its statement. 

"We are dedicated to securing the future of Bus Éireann as a premium employer and we have requested a meeting with all staff unions to discuss proposals which would restore our finances and protect the maximum number of jobs."

It said unions have refused to meet the company or failed to confirm acceptance of the invitation.

The company said some have "stated outrightly" that they will not engage with the company on improved efficiencies and cost saving proposals.

General Secretary of the Nbru, Dermot O'Leary, accused Bus Eireann of attempting to play footloose and fancy free with the industrial relations institutions of the state.

“For Bus Éireann to call for leadership from all sides to ensure meaningful discussions can commence is as pitiful as it is insulting," he said.

He accused the new management team of providing cover for their "paymasters" at both CIE group and department level. 

Mr Hernan recently revealed that cuts would include the axing of shift payments, reductions in Sunday premiums, and cuts in allowances. 

Redundancies are also expected and the company has not ruled out compulsory job losses. 

Mr Hernan has said that management and support grades will be "streamlined" and clerical staff are overpaid. 

The company said the court had accepted it could not deal with a pay claim last month until it had produced a more detailed plan. 

It said it had now given these details to unions in an attempt to deal with the wage claim in the context of the "urgent financial crisis" it faces. 

"Bus Éireann wrote to all unions on January 16 outlining the actions, which we believe are required to deal with the immediate risk of insolvency while ensuring future competitiveness and sustainability," said today's statement. 

"Bus Éireann has a viable future and can successfully compete but only if we make the necessary changes." 

Meanwhile, Acting Chief Executive Ray Hernan is expected to tell a Dail committee tomorrow that all 2,600 jobs are at risk because the company faces insolvency in 18 months.

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