Stoppage by bus workers next Wednesday is deferred

LRC to host talks in privatisation dispute

Plans to put bus routes out to tender have been strongly opposed by the National Bus and Rail Union and Siptu. Photograph Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Plans to put bus routes out to tender have been strongly opposed by the National Bus and Rail Union and Siptu. Photograph Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 18:46

A planned 90 -minute work stoppage and protest march by bus workers next Wednesday in protest at potential privatisation of some routes has been deferred.

The Labour Relations Commission (LRC) today invited trade unions and the National Transport Authority (NTA) to attend talks on the plans.

The Government has agreed to open up certain routes to competition in order to comply with EU directives, and the NTA announced it was opening some 10 per cent of the routes operated by Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus to competitive tender. Contracts are to be awarded next year, with services to commence in 2016.

In Dublin, orbital routes rather than city centre services - such as those between Blackrock and Rialto, and Chapelizod and the Square shopping centre in Tallaght - will be put out to tender.

Bus Éireann routes earmarked to be put out to tender include commuter services from Dublin to Tullamore, Portlaoise and Kildare, as well as a number of routes in Waterford city.

Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann will be able to compete for the tenders when the competition begins.

The plans to put bus routes out to tender have been strongly opposed by the National Bus and Rail Union and Siptu.

Members of the NBRU had organised the protest march scheduled for next Wednesday morning.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said: “We have received a request from the Labour Relations Commission to attend at exploratory discussions on Wed 23rd July on the issue of privatisation of bus routes, to date the NTA has ignored staff concerns and in fact told us that they would not under any circumstances engage with us on those concerns, however it would now appear that the NTA will be attending at these proposed discussions.

“One of the main planks of our campaign over recent months has been to highlight the continuous sidelining of staff concerns by the NTA. In recognition of the request from the LRC, we have asked the march organisers to temporarily postpone the march pending the outcome of these initial discussions, they have agreed to our request.”

Siptu said it would attend the talks at the LRC next week.

However, the union’s utilities and construction division organiser, Owen Reidy, said “the reality is such talks will come to little unless the NTA changes its approach and bins its illogical part-privatisation agenda”.

“This agenda will prove to be a bad deal for the taxpayer, the travelling public and the workers who provide the public transport system.”