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Tuesday 20 February 2018

Staff create maximum chaos on picket line

When services ground to a halt yesterday, commuters complained that they had little warning. Photo: Damien Eagers
When services ground to a halt yesterday, commuters complained that they had little warning. Photo: Damien Eagers

Bus Éireann workers pulled no punches on their first day on the picket lines.

They have been threatening industrial action for months and there were a number of false starts, but when they finally got the opportunity to pull the plug on services they did not hang around.

The minute Bus Éireann's acting chief executive Ray Hernan issued a letter saying the company would impose cuts to a range of work practices without agreement, they grasped the opportunity.

On Wednesday night after the letter was issued, union leaders warned that they could not "contain" their members any more.

"It's not a case of 'if' anymore, but when," said one senior union figure, when asked if the dispatch to staff would trigger a strike.

It was a toss up between yesterday and Monday. They obviously could not contain them.

When services ground to a halt yesterday, commuters complained that they had little warning.

Matters were made worse as CIÉ workers achieved maximum impact when the day started off with the news that not only would Bus Éireann's 110,000 daily passengers have to find some other way of getting to the shops or picking up their pensions, but those travelling by rail would also be caught up in the fray.

Private operators made hay. Tourists with no notion of what was going on were photographed walking into Busaras and waiting fruitlessly at bus stops.

It doesn't end there. Unions have other cards in their back pockets. School bus drivers may officially join the dispute on Friday.

Dublin Bus drivers may join unofficially even sooner.

Some union figures believe Transport Minister Shane Ross could not care less if the whole operation goes to the wall, and have accused Fine Gael of backing a privatisation agenda.

But whatever the ideology of those in power, they cannot politically afford an all-out strike for too long. Mr Ross says he cannot intervene, but who is in a better position to sort out a mess that goes beyond an industrial dispute and threatens Bus Éireann services now, and forever?

Irish Independent

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