TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar told Bus Eireann not to implement cost cutting plans while negotiations on a new public sector pay deal were underway.
The company was asked not to begin cutting overtime and premium payments aimed at saving €5m a year until unions had voted on a new Croke Park deal, he said this morning.
His comment came as Labour relation chief executive Kieran Mulvey said some of the unions that had rejected Croke Park II are more positive as talks progress.
Mr Mulvey said he feels that some of those unions are likely to recommend acceptance to their executives.
However, an overall deal has not been agreed.
Meanwhile, Bus Eireann announced it would proceed with cost-cutting plans which it said were needed to ensure the company had a future.
The move resulted in a two-day strike by drivers which cost the company €400,000 and left 80,000 passengers a day without a service.
Workers have since returned to work, and unions and management will meet at the Labour Relations Commission over the next two days to attempt to hammer out a deal.
Speaking on his way into the cabinet meeting this morning, Mr Varadkar said he asked the company “some weeks ago” to delay changing workers terms and conditions as part of moves to save €5m a year.
Asked if he had instructed the company only to enter discussions with trade unions if workers could produce alternative savings, he said: “The only instructions in fact I made were some weeks ago where I asked the company to hold off on implementation while there were sensitive talks underway under Croke Park.
“It’s not the case that I made any instruction to the company in recent weeks. I’m the Minister for Transport but Bus Eireann is a company in its own right. It has its own board, its own chief executive, and they are the ones who run the company. And they have my full support in the efforts that they are making to save the company.”
Industry sources confirmed that Mr Varadkar had requested the company to delay its plans. Once unions rejected the Croke Park II deal, the company decided to press ahead with its plans.
Bus Eireann declined to comment.