A union representing Bus Eireann drivers has claimed that a strike is now unavoidable following the breakdown of talks at the the Workplace Relations Commission last night.
Siptu claimed that the intransigence of Bus Éireann management has led to the strike action.
Unions had been locked in discussions with management at the WRC for seven days before they collapsed. Earlier this month strikes had been deferred at the last minute after the company withdrew plans to unilaterally impose new efficiency measures and changes to work practices.
In a statement Siptu sector organiser, Willie Noone, said: “Our members believe management at Bus Éireann have sleepwalked this vital community service into this position, by not engaging with the unions in a fair and equitable manner while unfairly attempting to portray the unions as being unreasonable and inflexible.
“SIPTU representatives indicated throughout the engagement with the WRC that every effort would be made to avoid a dispute and to deliver an outcome that would be acceptable to all parties. However, we said would not be able bring to our members in Bus Éireann any plan which would slash wages and terms and conditions."
Mr Noone said they entered the talks "in good faith".
“After agreeing to consider its position and revert to the unions, management put out a statement to the media late last night which claimed that the unions were inflexible and not willing to discuss reducing earnings or eradicating ‘unnecessary overtime’.
“We can say categorically that our members never would try and justify ‘unnecessary overtime’. However, our representatives will not allow for wages earned in excess of a basic rostered week that brings a meagre wage to a decent wage; to be removed without agreement by management."
He claimed management proposed that some drivers would drive "considerably more hours and "retain traditional payments but others would not be given the same opportunity and hence get their pay cut".
He said: "The unfairness and inequity of that proposal were highlighted immediately by SIPTU representatives. The company also refused to support a strict time bound process of driving out the inefficiencies identified which made Bus Éireann management's position totally unreasonable.”
Mr Noone also said that management wanted to eradicate the inefficiencies operated by the company for years almost immediately.