Bus Éireann talks reach stalemate

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Talks held at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) broke down when the company and unions reached a stalemate

Negotiations, held on Tuesday February 21, between Bus Éireann and trade unions have collapsed following the announcement that three routes will be axed to implement immediate savings. The services for Dublin- Clonmel, Athlone-Westport and Dublin-Derry could be cut within a matter of days.

Bus Éireann released a statement claiming that the unions have refused to negotiate: “The company cost structure is inefficient with drivers on average being paid for 9.4 hours per day (1.6 hours of this at overtime premium rates) when they only drive for 5.5 hours on scheduled services. The tax payer is paying excessively for the services currently provided. What is clear at this stage is that the unions have no intention of reaching an agreement which will address the financial crisis.”

The statement also said that the company could be insolvent by May of this year and that payroll savings of €12m were absolutely necessary. However, a statement from services industrial professional and technical union SIPTU revealed that members are preparing for immediate strike action.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “Today, management indicated that because the financial situation is so critical that it needs to immediately take €12 million from our members’ pockets or the company will be insolvent by May 2017.

“If Bus Éireann tries to force through cuts our members will have no option but to take strike action to save their jobs and protect public transport services. It is well past the time that the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, and other shareholders sat down around the table and accepted their responsibility to avert the destruction of our public transport service.”

National Bus and Railworkers’ (NBRU) Union General Secretary Dermot O’Leary said: “The Unions will not be found wanting in playing our part, efficiencies being a case in point, but the absence to-date of Government, whether that be through additional state support for vital services across the many towns and villages served by Bus Éireann, or an adequately funded Free Travel Scheme for those that both rely and deserve it’s provisions.

“It is simply not good enough that the Minister for Transport, as he recently suggested, would tell the people of Rural Ireland that their future services will be less frequent and less comfortable than that which they currently enjoy.”