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Friday 17 November 2017

Bus Éireann offers staff pay rise if they accept cuts to payments

Bus Eireann is facing major cuts (stock photo)
Bus Eireann is facing major cuts (stock photo)

Anne-Marie Walsh

Bus Éireann will cut Sunday premium payments and eliminate shift premium payments as part of a series of cuts to prevent the company from going bust.

Staff at the transport service have been offered a pay rise of up to 3pc a year over the next four years if they accept the cuts and do not take industrial action.

In a letter sent to the workforce of 2,600 this evening, acting Chief Executive Ray Hernan makes the offer after outlining a series of cuts that will include redundancies - although the number of job losses is not specified.

Under the guidelines, Sunday premium payments will drop from 100pc to 20pc, while shift premium payments will be eliminated. The company also wants to reduce overtime rates to time and a quarter and implement double time for public holidays.

There will be a 10pc cut in allowances, while sick pay benefits will also be reduced.

Mr Hernan told staff the government cannot and will not provide support and it is "up to us" to do what is required.

He urged unions to "be responsible" and accept the proposals for the sake of the future of the company.

They have submitted a claim for a pay rise of 21pc over three years - although sources recently revealed they would accept in the region of 3.75pc a year - similar to Luas and Dublin Bus pay rises last year.

He promised the company would protect the maximum number of "viable" jobs and basic pay will be safe-guarded.

The letter does not specify how many redundancies will be sought but he said it would try to redeploy staff or offer them voluntary redundancy "in the first instance".

"There is only a crisis in Bus Éireann if we do nothing and that is not going to happen," he said.

"The current position is not sustainable and if we do not take decisive steps to address our cost base and inefficiencies, we will go out of business."

Outlining the pay offer, he says those on lower levels of income would receive 3pc a year, those at the higher level would get 1pc, while others would get 2pc.

Mr Hernan said the company will make the first payment when "cash flow allows" and said the increase would not be counted when calculating pensions.

It would be paid retrospectively from the date agreement is reached with unions.

Mr Hernan said that Bus Eireann must continue to play a central role in Irish public transport and continue to provide connectivity on all routes currently served on commercial and public service obligation routes.

He said free travel had not caused the company’s problems and an increase in revenue for such services would not fix its problems.

In a report, recently revealed on Independent.ie, consultants from Grant Thornton warned that the company may be forced to close its Expressway service.

Meanwhile, SIPTU  members have rejected a plan presented by the management of Bus Éireann to workers this evening (Wednesday, 18th January) and condemned it as a blueprint for the destruction of the company as a viable organisation.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “As has been the practice of management throughout the last few weeks these proposals were aired in the media prior to staff being informed of them. The plan presented to workers today is horrendous and totally unacceptable.

"Management should remember that a mandate for industrial action has already been attained from SIPTU members. Such action will be activated in circumstances where the company proceeds to implement plans that would effectively erode the conditions of employment that have been attained by our members over the last number of decades.

"For a semi-state company to issue such an ill thought out set of proposals after months of inertia is completely unacceptable. This plan would effectively introduce casualisation of work, redeployment of workers to wherever the company wants, destroy the pension scheme, reduce staff numbers as well as introduce privatisation and outsourcing of work.

"The proposals would undermine the integrity of all categories of workers in Bus Éireann, especially clerical staff, by effectively stating they are overpaid. It would reduce currently meagre shift and premium payments and expects workers to accept everything the company wants without question."

General Secretary of NBRU Dermot O'Leary described the proposals as "scandalous".

"It is nothing short of scandalous that Bus Éireann would resort to attacking its own staff through cutting their wages to facilitate the Minister and his Department into becoming a reincarnation of Pontius Pilate in denying all responsibility for creating the Expressway Crisis.

 Attempting to ensnare ordinary workers into a Labyrinth of political deceit is disgraceful, and clearly demonstrates the contempt that those who make policy, those that implement policy have for decent workers who go about their daily toil far, far away from where life impacting decisions are made. It is insulting to Bus Workers to suggest that a pay rise is available of up to 3% when the threatened cuts contained in the correspondence are in order of 25% plus”.

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