Saturday 18 November 2017

Members of Bus Éireann trade unions SIPTU and Unite vote to accept Labour Court recommendations

The 21-day strike was called off temporarily as the Labour Court issued its recommendations

Stock photo
Stock photo
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

THE prospect of further Bus Eireann strikes has diminished after the main union narrowly backed a proposal to end a row over payroll cuts.

Just over 53pc of Siptu members at the insolvent semi-state company have voted in favour of a Labour Court recommendation to end the dispute.

But the threat of industrial action is not over as members of the other main union - the National Bus and Railworkers Union - will not give their verdict until next Friday.

A 21-day strike was called off temporarily after the Labour Court issued its recommendations.

The strike caused significant disruption around the country.

At least 120 drivers would take voluntary redundancy over 12 months under the court's proposal.

In addition, a composite pay rate would be set up that includes premium pay. The rate would start at €17.37 an hour, rising to €20.11 after four years' service.

Members of a smaller union, UNITE, revealed they have also voted in favour of the court's proposal "in the hope that the company's fortunes can be turned around."

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said the acceptance of the recommendation can only be described as a purely pragmatic decision.

He said its contents will have huge cultural, structural and financial implications for all staff within the company and the wider CIÉ Group.

Mr Noone said there will have to be further talks with the company in relation to putting together new rosters for drivers.

There will also have to be talks in relation to the timeframe for staff to exit the company on voluntary severance schemes and the criteria in relation to how they are selected to leave.

Read More: Bus Eireann workers to return to work after 21 days on strike

Unite called on the government to announce a timeline for a promised stakeholder forum to address the future of public transport.

Regional Officer Willie Quigley said the terms of the recommendation demand heavy sacrifices of Bus Eireann workers.

He said  management and the government "bear responsibility for the crisis facing the company".

"Given the gravity of the situation facing Bus Eireann, a majority of our members may have felt they had no option but to accept highly unpalatable measures in the hope that the company’s fortunes can be turned around," he said.

"Our members are picking up the tab for a financial crisis not of their making.

"Now, the focus must be on mapping a sustainable road forward for Ireland’s public transport system in general and Bus Éireann in particular.

"In that regard, I am calling on the government to state when the proposal for a stakeholder forum – which was endorsed in the Labour Court recommendation – will be implemented," he continued.

Read More: Bus Eireann facing losses of €10m as services look set to resume over Easter

"Unite looks forward to playing a constructive role in that forum. However, we would reiterate that – if the forum is to be more than a talking shop – the government must make a long-term financial commitment to the future of public transport as a public service."

There are five unions involved in the dispute. They are the NBRU, Siptu, the Transport Salaried Staff's Association, the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union and Unite.

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