Facing potential annual losses of around €20m, Bus Eireann has sought a means of cutting costs, but the drivers’ union fiercely rejects talk of cuts in wages or jobs and threatened strike action for this week.
Up to 900 drivers – members of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) – refused to work after Bus Eireann said it must go ahead with cost-cutting plans from May 12.
The Labour Court ruled in February Bus Eireann must make savings of €20m to secure its future – proposing €11m of savings to come from operations and €9m from employee terms and conditions. Bus Eireann said despite announcing its plans last June there had been “no progress” on savings due to “trade union resistance.” The company warned job losses would be inevitable.
A spokesman told The Irish Independent: “The very existence of the transport company is under threat. We have no other choice but to remind employees and trade unions once again that, unlike the public sector, there is no safety net for Bus Eireann. If we do not reduce our cost base, jobs losses may be unavoidable.
“Any industrial action will be counter-productive as it will cause inconvenience to customers and result in losses. We have to look at employment levels and core pay if we can’t get the savings.”
Most workers are represented by SIPTU and the NBRU and will be hit with a reduction in overtime and premium payments; an increase in the working week for clerical and executive staff from 36 hours to 39 hours; a reduction in annual leave by three days per year up to 2015; and cuts in a range of allowance and expense payments.
The NBRU said it had been engaging with the company over the changes and was shocked to be told the cost-cutting plan was being implemented.