Square one for Bus Éireann talks

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Talks between Bus Éireann and unions broke down once again yesterday and the threat of strike action is ever looming

Discussions held at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on Monday 13, March were unsuccessful despite seven days of engagement.

NBRU released two statements about the disintegration of talks and another accusing Bus Éireann of having ‘corporate amnesia’. In their notice to members, NBRU stated: “The Trade Unions position, as articulated to Bus Éireann management through the WRC, is that we were prepared to engage in an extensive efficiency based agenda, within a concentrated timeframe in response to the Expressway crisis.

“The NBRU maintains its position that it will not countenance immediate cuts to members take home pay or cuts to terms and conditions. The Company position, as of this evening is that they will consider its position and revert in due course.”

With no scheduled timeframe for reengagement NBRU have advised members that they will be informed of further developments as they arise.

Bus Éireann also released a statement on Monday explaining that they were disappointed with the talks: “Given the seriousness of our financial position, we always had a very tight timeframe to implement actions but we nevertheless engaged in good faith to facilitate intensive discussion, with the aim of reaching a negotiated settlement with trade unions.

“Despite their public pronouncements about engaging on addressing the high level of inefficiencies, there has been no flexibility shown during our engagement on efficiency measures. While inefficiencies have been acknowledged and accepted by unions, there was a refusal to accept any reduction of earnings, including unnecessary overtime earnings.”

However, General Secretary of NBRU, Dermot O’Leary hit back at the operator and accused Bus Éireann management of entering in, ‘the 11th hour’: “Bus Éireann stand accused of having had a sudden attack of corporate amnesia in relation to how take-home pay has historically been constructed at the Company, it is a bit rich of the new management team to enter the arena at the 11th hour and seek, in one fell swoop to address a crisis that has been over two years in gestation. The fact of the matter is that all of the agreements that cover the take home pay of its own staff have been previously agreed through the tried and trusted collective bargaining mechanisms, between the representative Trade Unions and the management, some of which are now attempting to rewrite history.

“The Trade Unions entered the WRC process fully committed to engage on an efficiency based agenda, which would potentially generate significant savings towards addressing the Expressway crisis, the notion that an immediate cut to some overtime earnings would suddenly address the Government Policy induced crisis, is frankly incredulous, and Bus Éireann stand indicted of displaying a cavalier attitude towards its responsibilities to those that rely on its services and its own staff.”