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Fears of new strike as bus drivers walk away from privatisation talks

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There was a three-day strike in August 2013 over planned cuts

A major national bus strike could be looming as unions walk away from talks with Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus.

Representatives from SIPTU and the National Bus and Rail workers Union have withdrawn from discussions on the privatisation, saying that “no assurances were given” on what will happen to workers if plans go ahead to privatise 10pc of all bus routes.

The NRBU now intends to begin High Court proceedings against the implementation of the Government's privatisation policy, and is to ballot members in Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Irish Rail next week (6 April) for industrial action up to and including an all-out strike.

"We have from day one been consistent in our approach to this policy, in that we informed both the current and previous Minister that the privatisation of publicly-owned bus services was not alone a flawed policy but was also based on a dubious interpretation of the relevant legislation and would inevitably result in conflict," said NRBU General Secretary Dermot O'Leary.

Under current privatisation plans, orbital routes in Dublin rather than city centre services will be put out to tender.

A dispute over cost-saving plans at Dublin Bus led to a three-day strike in August 2013.

"The challenge now for the NTA… [will be] to come to the table to negotiate a mechanism which will address our members' concerns and facilitate an open and transparent debate around public transport provision, which should be inclusive of all stakeholders," said Mr O’Leary.

Adding: “If they (NTA) do not, we will have no option but to use all the resources at our disposal including initiating High Court proceedings."

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