Hopes Bus Eireann dispute will 'be resolved over the next number of days'
NBRU chief defends decision not to call off pickets while talks are being held
Morale among striking Bus Éireann staff is high but they hope the bitter dispute will be settled over the coming days, General Secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union Dermot O'Leary said this morning.
NBRU and Siptu will meet with Bus Éireann bosses this afternoon at the Workplace Relations Commission for crunch talks but Mr O'Leary says there are a number of issues that need to be addressed before they can call off their action.
He said: "I've been on the radio several times over the last few weeks and I'm sure it's getting a bit jading for people... but we're certainly not getting jaded for those people standing on the picket lines and those people waiting on bus services to resume.
"The NBRU have always said there's a full-time plan here - we've been looking at advancing and the detail at the plan.
"There's a number of issues, there are pay restoration issues we've discussed, there are other issues around policy, Government policy and the licence regime, a lot of the problems at Bus Éireann have legislation that backs up that regime."
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr O'Leary defended the decision not to call off the pickets while the talks are being held.
He said: "The problem is that more often than not we would accept a request to do so, but in this situation we have people who are on the picket line and have been suffering cuts since early January through a series of late interventions by the company...
"In some cases we have between €80 and €150 or €180 across a number of grades.
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"We also have a situation where the Route 7 from Dublin to Clonmel is threatened, it's actually closing this Sunday we believe and a number of our people have been threatened on the back of that.
"Over the last few days we've heart the NTA have actually revoked that licence, making the opportunity to restore that route very difficult indeed...
"This is day twelve that our people are on the picket line and instead of a lowering morale it's had the opposite affect, people are determined to see this out and see a proposal, hopefully it will be resolved over the next number of days."
Bus Éireann's Acting Chief Executive Ray Hernan has warned the company faces insolvency next month and has to implement a €30m cost-cutting plan as soon as possible but Mr O'Leary said this won't solve the problems workers have.
Mr O'Leary said: "The Minister, as recently as last November I believe, was told quite clearly by the Bus Eireann Chief Executive that there was this loss.
"We're now faced with a situation, and this has made it difficult, where the company has an ambition to reduce costs by €30 million, they're making it similar to some other low wage operators out there.
"If the company are going to make a €30 million reduction then that difficulty that you refer to is going to remain.
"The drivers can try and resolve this crisis and on the industrial relations side we can do our best, once the Government in the guise of the NTA and the Department of Transport sign up to a forum which is required beyond these talks, which will allow people like ourselves, the company and private companies and indeed the commuter to interact in that forum and see plans for the future of public transport."