Friday 25 May 2018

Transport Minister announces fresh commitments surrounding bus drivers jobs in latest attempt to avert planned strike action

Minister Paschal Donohoe
Minister Paschal Donohoe

Niall O'Connor, Political Correspondent

TRANSPORT Minister Paschal Donohoe has announced fresh commitments surrounding the employment terms of bus drivers in his latest attempt to avert planned strike action.

Mr Donohoe said drivers with Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann will not be forced to transfer to private operators once 10pc of the routes are put out for tender.

There had been concern that workers could lose their jobs or have their employment terms diminished if private operators successfully secured contracts for the tendered routes.

But the minister's commitment today is aimed at reassuring workers about their job security as well as staving off this weekend's planned strike action.

The first of this industrial action is scheduled to take place this Friday and Saturday, May 1-2, the start of the May bank holiday weekend.

Two further days are being planned by SIPTU and the National Bus and Railworkers Union (NBRU).

Speaking at Leinster House today, Mr Donohoe said the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) is ready to be used to discuss the latest proposals.

“This commitment would mean that there is absolutely no threat to the security of tenure or the terms and conditions of the current members of SIPTU or the NBRU arising from the tender process.  There is therefore no basis for industrial action by either union against the companies," he said.

The other issues which the NBRU and SIPTU have referred to as a justification for the threatened strikes relate to government policies and legislation.  As the bus companies have no control over these, strike action which would damage the companies and inconvenience their customers cannot be justified.

"It is therefore in the best interests of everyone that the commitment that the companies are prepared to make is used as the basis for constructive engagement at the LRC and the threatened strike action is immediately called off.”

The proposals by the National Transport Authority (NTA) would see several Dublin Bus routes put on for tender, as well as commuter services from Dublin to Tullamore, Portlaoise and Kildare. The plans also propose the tendering of routes in Waterford City.

Mr Donohoe has said the measures will result in improved services and ultimately save the taxpayer money. However, the unions insist the move will open the door for a campaign of privatisation, put jobs at risk and result in a deterioration of workers’ conditions.

General Secretary at the NBRU Dermot O'Leary said that today's statement for Minister Donohue does not affect the planned industrial action this weekend.

"The disruption on Friday has not been called off," he told RTE Radio 1 this afternoon.

While O'Leary said he would be willing to enter talks with the LRC this week, "nothing in the Minister's statement would give us any comfort."

"There's a very short road between here and 2019 for the future of the bus companies. I don't want to enter talks and emerge without a solution."

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