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Saturday 18 November 2017

Plan to save Bus Éireann involves job losses, pay cuts and work changes

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary. Photo: Collins
NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary. Photo: Collins

Chai Brady

The plan to save Bus Éireann includes hundreds of job losses, pay cuts and a host of work-related efficiencies.

Workers finally called off their three-week-long strike as the Labour Court laid out its recommendations.

About 240 job cuts are on the cards along with a range of changes to work practices, including pay cuts for managers.

Union members and the company will now review the recommendations laid out by the Labour Court to consider if they are acceptable to both sides.

If the plan is accepted, job losses will span across every sector of the company, with drivers taking the biggest hit at 120 voluntary severances.

The remaining drivers are expected to be flexible in the hours and days they work, and the routes they drive, in order to 'maximise efficiencies'. There are also 70 job losses between senior managerial and clerical workers, with anyone earning more than €60,000 taking a 10pc pay cut.

A further 17 jobs could be lost as the Dundalk garage is set to be closed under the terms.

This comes as the struggling bus company told the Labour Court it is insolvent, which the court stated was of "gravest significance for those who work in Bus Éireann".

Read More: What happens next in long-running saga?

Acting CEO Ray Hernan has said for several months that it would become insolvent by May, which was undoubtedly sped up by the 21-day strike - which officials said was costing the company €500,000 a day. In January the company said it had €7m left in cash reserves.

Last night, accountants were crunching numbers to see how much would be saved if the new recommendations were accepted.

A large amount of what the company called for was in the Labour Court's recommendations, which could point towards Bus Éireann agreeing to the terms.

Bonuses

Pay rates for drivers will rise to €20.11 if they have been in the company for more than four years, which makes up the majority of the workforce. No bonuses for shift work and a 2h45min daily unpaid break are two of the hits among several drivers will receive.

Siptu's Willie Noone said that although staff were seeing an hourly increase in their wage, with the abolishment of overtime the company was gaining hugely because they get the same amount of work done by 120 fewer drivers.

According to the National Bus and Railworkers' Union (NBRU) general secretary Dermot O'Leary, "there will be winners and there will be losers, there's no doubt about that".

"Whilst we have industrial peace now, I can't give any guarantees going forward," he said.

Business will continue as usual now until all union members have been balloted, which could take several weeks.

Union leaders did not give a time frame on when balloting would be complete, which means the industrial peace could be a ticking time-bomb.

Both Siptu and the NBRU were critical of the National Transport Authority and the Minister for Transport for not intervening in the dispute.

Bus Éireann management have said they are giving "due consideration" to the recommendations.

It added that some services resumed yesterday evening but the "vast majority" would only be operational this morning.

"Details of routes and services will be updated regularly on our website and Bus Éireann social media," a representative said. "We again apologise for the inconvenience caused to customers over the last three weeks of strike action."

The strike began when the struggling company informed workers it was introducing payroll cuts worth €12m. The company is believed to have lost over €10m due to the strike.

Irish Independent

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