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Friday 18 January 2019

Union hits out at Ross over lack of forum for transport

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary. Picture: Mark Condren
NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary. Picture: Mark Condren
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Transport Minister Shane Ross is using the threat of possible strike action to justify his aversion to setting up a much-needed public transport stakeholders forum, a union official has claimed.

In a scathing letter to the minister, Dermot O'Leary, general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), claimed "yet another 'political' promise has been welched upon by those in high office".

He cited a recommendation by the Labour Court following the Bus Éireann dispute last April in which it endorsed the establishment of a public transport forum comprising all relevant stakeholders.

"The staff at Bus Éireann accepted the recommendation in May 2017; you met with all the trade unions in July 2017 at which you gave a firm commitment that you would establish the forum, going as far as to say that it was your intention to convene an initial meeting of all stakeholders in the autumn of 2017, you have yet to do so," he wrote.

He said the forum is needed now more than ever, noting "a certain irony in that the significant disruption to our public transport system over recent weeks has occurred, not because of something the unions have is simply down to bad planning by those who see themselves as untouchable and unaccountable".

He said the recent gridlock due to the expansion of the Luas line underscores "the absolute necessity" of establishing the forum.

A spokesperson for Mr Ross said he "is ready and willing to convene it (the forum) as soon as possible".

"However, it's not appropriate to convene while there is industrial action threatened," she said, in reference to a ballot currently underway by the NBRU for an all-out strike by train drivers in a dispute over mentoring of new drivers. The result of the ballot is expected by the end of the month.

Mr O'Leary claimed the minister's "predilection" to "using the mere mention of potential unrest at any of the three CIÉ subsidiaries to abandon ship is simply not good enough and lends significant credence to the view that it is your department and the NTA (National Transport Authority) that are resistant to establishing this much-needed forum. Minister, the debacle that has resulted in gridlock across Dublin city, created by ad hoc decisions made on the hoof, has illuminated the absolute necessity of establishing the public transport stakeholders' forum."

Irish Independent

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