'Bus Eireann first - but it could be us next', say CIE staff at Dail demo

Bus Eireann staff Melissa MacPhearson, Karen Duffy, Emma Jago, Rachel Cowley and Emma McPartland at the protest

Gavin White

Workers at Dublin Bus and Irish Rail are worried they could be next on the chopping block if management at Bus Eireann brings in a cost-cutting plan.

A handful of staff from both arms of CIE attended a demonstration at the Dail yesterday in support of their striking Bus Eireann colleagues.

While there was no disruption to Dublin Bus or Irish Rail routes as a result of staff attending the rally, a ballot for strike action among CIE group members still looms large.

Siptu has said it plans to seek a mandate, which could happen as early as next week.

Around 2,600 employees at Bus Eireann have been on strike since last Friday in a dispute over plans by management to introduce new cost-saving efficiency measures and work practice changes without agreement.

Irish Rail train driver Bernard McDonnell, from Fairview, said he joined the protest as "transport is a public service, not a private business".

"We're getting to a stage where workers are worse off than people on social welfare, with some people getting medical cards and rent allowance," he said.

Mr McDonnell has been in the service for 25 years and said "it'll be Bus Eireann first and then you won't know what's next".

Bus Eireann drivers were joined at the demo by clerical workers, who have also been on strike for six days. Melissa MacPhearson, from Ranelagh, said her message to the public was it is not about money or benefits.

"It's about holding the terms and conditions that have already been agreed. There is no quick fix to the problems within Bus Eireann," she said.

Corkman John Houlihan came up to protest from his usual West Cork route and said "it's been tough on the picket line with no wages".


"In my 38 years with the company, I've never seen the situation as bad as this," he said.

"There's been a crisis in Bus Eireann every five or six years but this is the worst yet."

Bus driver Sean Yeates, from Ringsend, said the protest "was not about pay".

The Dublin Bus employee of 17 years said his attendance was "absolutely about solidarity".