Thursday 21 November 2019

No end to bus strike 'until deal done'

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe Picture: Damien Eagers
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe Picture: Damien Eagers

Anne-Marie Walsh

Unions will not call off an all-out strike at Bus Éireann until a deal is brokered to resolve a row over €12m payroll cuts at new talks.

Speaking on his way into talks at the Workplace Relations Commission, General Secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers' Union Dermot O'Leary warned that industrial action will continue until there is agreement.

"Our members will remain on the picket line until a proposal emanates that they can consider," he said.

The Workplace Relations Commission would normally ask unions to call off industrial action at the start of talks, and they usually oblige.

It is understood it did not do so this time as unions had warned publicly that their members would continue to mount pickets even if they attended talks.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and former Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe yesterday backed his successor Shane Ross' approach by refusing to intervene in the dispute.

Speaking at the launch of a civil service survey, he denied that he had kicked the ball down the road in relation to Bus Éireann's financial crisis.

A report by Grant Thornton on the company's financial position claimed that Mr Donohoe asked Bus Éireann managers to prepare a cost-cutting plan "which avoided large-scale industrial relations unrest" as its financial difficulties worsened.

Mr Donohoe said if the government was seen to be undermining the WRC, it would have profound consequences for the ability of the state to deal with industrial relations "in an ordered and effective manner".

Mr Donohoe said at no stage did he make a decision that he would not deal with industrial relations difficulties within the CIE Group.

"To the best of my recollection, there were four different disputes in place when I was minister for transport, each of which I dealt with in the same way that Minister Ross is now dealing with this matter."

Irish Independent

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