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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Crisis talks aimed at averting further Dublin Bus strikes to begin today

Dublin Bus. Photo: Tony Gavin
Dublin Bus. Photo: Tony Gavin

David Kearns

Members of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) say they have agreed to attend the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) for exploratory talks on Monday.

However the NBRU insisted that work stoppages scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday this week are still going ahead as scheduled.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) intervened in the dispute on Sunday and invited unions and management to attend talks to resolve the on-going pay dispute.

Dublin Bus has confirmed that it has accepted WRC’s invite to talks tomorrow without preconditions.

"Whilst the request to attend at talks without preconditions is something the trade unions have long been calling for, the fact is that our members are extremely angry that the inaction to-date by the company and the Department of Transport has caused severe disruption to commuters and staff alike,” said NBRU General Secretary Dermot O'Leary said.

"The NBRU focus from the commencement of this dispute has been geared towards getting Dublin Bus to attend at discussions in order to address the fact that its own staff are deserving of a fair and adequate wage rise after eight long years of austerity enforced pay stagnation and pay cuts".

In a statement Siptu organiser Owen Reidy said: "[We] welcome this initiative from the WRC and will be in attendance.

"We understand that the purpose of this initial meeting is to see whether there [is] the basis for a negotiation between the parties.

"The decision as to whether the pending action on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week goes ahead or is cancelled will be made by the union committee based on the progress or otherwise at tomorrow's initial meeting."

Trade union Unite, which represents craft worker in Dublin Bus, has welcomed the intervention. 

Unite Regional Officer Willie Quigley said: "Dublin Bus workers, along with the travelling public, have been frustrated by the failure of both Dublin Bus and their shareholder, the Government, to engage meaningfully to resolve this dispute.

“Not only have our members received no wage increase since 2008, and been denied an agreed wage increase – they have also suffered a deterioration in their working conditions.

“Against that background, our members are determined to pursue their legitimate claims.

“We welcome the WRC’s intervention, and look forward to engaging tomorrow without preconditions”, Mr Quigley concluded.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said: "I am pleased talks are due to take place between both sides at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC),  and we now need to give the relevant institutions space to formulate an agreement that is fair and workable for both sides."

Thousands of commuters faced severe disruption across the weekend as staff at Dublin Bus went on strike for a fifth and sixth day as part of a campaign for higher pay.

Union members are seeking a 15pc pay rise over the next three years, as well as a payment in lieu of an agreed 6 pc that was deferred in 2009.

About 400,000 people have had their travel plans disrupted on each day of the strikes, according to management at Dublin Bus.

Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) claims retail sales plunged by up to 60pc on Saturday due to the strikes action.

This stoppages are due Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, while further into October there will be stoppages on 5th, 7th 10th, 12th, 14th, 18th, 19th, 24th, 26th and 29th.

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