Unions agree to attend talks over Bus Éireann 'crisis' in bid to avert strike action
THERE is hope that an indefinite all-out strike at Bus Eireann that is set to start on Monday could be averted.
The National Bus and Railworkers Union (NBRU) and Siptu have agreed to hold talks with the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in relation to the Bus Éireann "crisis."
Bus Eireann passengers already face the threat of an indefinite all-out strike from February 20 after management warned it will impose cuts to workers' earnings worth €12m from that date.
However, speaking today, NBRU General Secretary Dermot O'Leary said they will continue to work towards a resolution.
He said: "Whilst remaining implacable imposed to draconian unilateral cuts to terms and conditions threatened by Bus Éireann from the 20th February we are, in deference to the WRC, prepared to engage separately with the commission to establish if there is a basis towards achieving a resolution to this crisis."
SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said the invitation is a welcome development.
He said the talks will allow the Workplace Relations Commission to assess the situation.
"We will use these talks as an opportunity to restate our members’ position that the company must remove the threat to unilaterally implement changes to their terms and conditions of employment on Monday February 20," he said.
Unions claim the cuts – worth €12m – would reduce workers' earnings by up to 30pc but Bus Eireann's Acting Chief Executive Ray Hernan says the average is 10pc.
Mr Hernan has warned that the commercial semi-state company could go bust before the end of the year if a €30m cost-cutting plan is not rolled out as soon as possible.
Mr Hernan announced the cuts in a letter to staff.
The cuts include the axing of shift payments, cuts to Sunday premium pay and overtime, and a 10pc cut in allowances.
In addition, a pool of casual and part-time drivers and contractors would be set up.
Mr O'Leary outlined that any resolution "can only be achieved if there is a buy in from all stakeholders."
"The stated position of the company to date, along with the Pontius Pilate attitude of the shareholder make any potential solution extremely difficult, therefore it would be remiss of the NBRU not to alert people to the fact that the all-out strike planned for Monday 20th February is likely to proceed."