Friday 19 January 2018

Dublin Bus drivers finally accept cost cutting in vote

Martin Frawley

COMMUTERS fearing further strikes at Dublin Bus got a boost, as drivers in the SIPTU union voted overwhelmingly against taking such action.

Of the 1,300 drivers, 72pc voted against taking strike action.

This effectively means that after five attempts and more than a year of negotiations, they have finally accepted the company's decision to implement the €11.7m cost-cutting plan from Sunday, November 17.

All other grades in Dublin Bus have accepted the plan, including another 1,200 drivers represented by the National Bus and Railworkers Union as well as other SIPTU workers in the company.

Last week, SIPTU drivers narrowly rejected the cost-cutting measures but held another ballot with the result opposing further strike action delivered last night.

"The acceptance of the cost-reduction proposals by a majority of their colleagues in previous ballots indicated to bus drivers that any strike action would not have the level of unity and support which would be required to successfully fend off the proposed cuts," said SIPTU organiser John Murphy.

Mr Murphy said it was was a pragmatic decision in the sense that it was not a winnable dispute, but nobody was jumping up and down.

He added that fare increases, combined with the continued lowering of the state subvention, and proposals to privatise routes, were leading to the lowering of workers' conditions of employment and damaging the transport service to the public.

UNITED

"SIPTU bus drivers recognise that a united workforce, with public support, is required to successfully combat these moves," said Mr Murphy.

Transport Minster Leo Varadkar said the ballot result was "in the best interests of the company, all of its employees and everyone who depends on their services".

Previously, Mr Varadkar had warned that the future of the loss-making company and its employees was stark, if the cost- savings plan was not accepted.

Dublin Bus also welcomed the result, admitting that the last number of years had been difficult for employees who had worked together to implement a number of cost-cutting and change programmes.

The company has lost €84m over the past five years, while the government subvention had been reduced from €65m this year to €60.4m for 2014.

It added however, that the company had still managed to introduce various service improvements such as real-time passenger information, in co-operation with its employees.

"Dublin Bus looks forward to building on these advancements to ensure the company returns to financial stability and will commence with the implementation of the plan on Sunday, November 17."

Irish Independent

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