Monday 27 January 2020

Bus workers strike from midnight - but level of disruption unclear

Jerome Reilly

A STRIKE by provincial bus workers starting from midnight tonight is expected to bring travel chaos around the country.

The first services to be halted will be tomorrow morning’s early morning departures from 17 depots around the country.

 

Up to 10,000 passengers will be affected by the strike action and Bus Eireann says it will cost the firm €200,000 per day of strike action.

 

But today it is unknown exactly how much disruption will be caused.

 

About 1,000 of Bus Eireann’s workforce are members of the NBRU with the remainder, some 800, members of SIPTU.

 

SIPTU workers are currently balloting on the Labour Court recommendation at the heart of the dispute but may decide not to  pass the NBRU pickets. They have not passed pickets in previous disputes.

 

But Transport Minister Leo Varadkar challenged NBRU leaders to come up with alternative plans to save money  - and the company.

 

A spokesman for the Minister said: “We need action now to secure the company, for the passengers who depend on its services, and its employees. The Government continues to engage closely with management.”

 

“The company remains open to engaging with the unions, should the unions wish to make concrete and viable proposals to deliver vital savings.

 

Bus workers say they stand to lose  between €3,000 and €4,000 a year in salary cuts  but management say salary reduction is vital  to ensure viability.

 

Ahead of the strike NBRU  boss Michael Faherty said:” We represent 1,000 people and they won't be working. That's a certainty. I can't speak for other unions, so it's up to them what they do.

 

“It's an official strike and I can't see anybody passing an official strike.”

 

A spokesman for the company told the Sunday Independent that:” We know more than half  our drivers will be out  on strike action but we don’t yet know the situation regarding SIPTU.”

 

Both sides indicated they were willing to engage in last-minute talks to avoid the strike.

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