Tuesday 20 February 2018

Bus drivers to strike despite minister’s plea

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe sought to defuse row
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe sought to defuse row
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

Bus drivers have vowed to continue with their plans for a crippling 48-hour strike timed to coincide with the start of the busy bank holiday weekend.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe sought to defuse the bitter row between drivers and management at Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus by guaranteeing that no driver would be required to transfer to a private operator when 10pc of bus routes are put out to tender.

However, Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) last night refused to call off their strike which is due to begin on Friday.

Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the NBRU, said there was “slim” hope of calling off the strike until all of the drivers’ issues were addressed, particularly commitments beyond 2019 when the current tender phase is finished.

He welcomed the minister’s intervention as “a step in the right direction”, and said his union would join talks if contacted by the Labour Relations Commission.

“Whilst it is to be welcomed that the minister is prepared to acknowledge some of our members’ concerns, he needs to move towards turning all this positivity into a workable solution, which will not alone address the issues he has

addressed today, but also those that concern the future of both bus companies and the CIE Group as a whole,” he added.

Siptu organiser Owen Reidy said his members “noted” the minister’s statement, but the strike was still going ahead.

He said there must be a “comprehensive agreement” which deals with the threat to bus services and workers’ terms of employment before the industrial action will be called off.

“In his statement the minister has only sought to deal with one point of concern for Siptu members in relation to the threat posed by the privatisation of bus routes. Some weeks ago Siptu presented a six-point agenda relating to the security of our members’ employment.

“Our members are seeking responses to a number of

interlinked issues relating to the adverse impact on their jobs. To date, only one of these has been responded to,” he said.

Mr Donohoe said that, following discussions with management, the bus companies had agreed that no driver would have to move to a private operator unless he or she wanted to.

“There is therefore no basis for industrial action by either union,” he said.

The two companies welcomed the minister’s intervention and called on the unions to abandon their strike for the sake of the public and the financial future of the businesses.

Bus Éireann chief executive Martin Nolan warned that any strike action could have dire consequences with the loss of up to €5m. If that were to happen, management would have to “seriously consider” measures to protect the company and all of its employees.

Paddy Doherty, chief executive of Dublin Bus, said it would lose €600,000 for each day of the strike and discommode 450,000 passengers.

Irish Independent

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