Tuesday 20 March 2018

Bus strike: 11th-hour deal to avert industrial action may be possible

Dublin Bus
Dublin Bus

Mark O'Regan & Paul Melia

An 11th-hour deal to avert bus strike action could be possible if workers re-enter negotiations with management, the chief executive of Bus Eireann has said.

Failure to broker a deal will have “dire financial consequences” for the company, and spark widespread public anger, Martin Nolan warned.

Drivers at Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann have planned to take four days of strike action in May in a row over the privatisation of routes.

The first phase​ is scheduled to take place this Friday and Saturday -​ the start of the bank holiday weekend.

A number of private bus services will be putting on extra services to cope with additional demand.

However, Mr Nolan insisted the company is making "every effort" to resolve the dispute and stop the strike from going ahead.​

Read more: Bus strike: Irish Rail works and taxi fare increases to add to transport chaos this weekend

Speaking before the Oireachtas Transport Committee, he said efforts are being made behind-the-scenes to get all sides back round the negotiating table.

He also reiterated that no staff will be forced to transfer to private sector operators when 10pc of bus routes are put out to private tender.

Terms and conditions of employment will also be protected, he added.

“This weekend is one of our busiest weekends of the year. The strike action will have dire financial consequences for our company and Dublin Bus.”

​He said there is a need to go back into the Labour Relations Commission and pursue further negotiations.​

"We just need to get back around the table - I know there is a lot of work going on to get that to happen.

"But if we go out and strike I think the public sympathy will disappear fairly quickly, and we live on our reputation.

"We'll be fighting up to the last minute to keep people inside working, rather than outside.”

Read more: Bus strike: AA warns commuters to 'plan ahead' for 'difficult day' on Friday

​Meanwhile, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said he made "substantial intervention" in the dispute yesterday.

"I made it very clear that any worker who does not wish to transfer across will not have to do so, and have therefore dealt with the substantial issues raised under industrial relations issues.

“If a worker does not wish to transfer, there’s no issue (with pensions)," he added.

"I have provided the basis for substantial engagement with the LRC. Because of that, I believe there is no basis for industrial action.”

Iarnrod Eireann has advised customers that there will be revised schedules on a number of routes across the weekend, from Saturday to Monday inclusive.

Full information and online sales are available at www.irishrail.ie

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News