All-out bus strike threat for March

 

ABOUT 450,000 bus passengers in Dublin face severe disruption to services from the beginning of next month following a decision by the trade union Siptu to launch a continuous all-out strike at Dublin Bus from March 1st in protest at the company’s cost-cutting plans.

Siptu yesterday said that it had no alternative course of action left open to it to protect the conditions of employment of its drivers in the company. Under the plan drawn up by Dublin Bus about 290 jobs will be lost, including those of 160 drivers.

The company is also to reduce its fleet by 120 buses.

Siptu said yesterday that it had not been afforded any opportunity by Dublin Bus management to address the proposals and to protect employment conditions for bus drivers.

Although Siptu represents almost half of drivers at the troubled company, union chiefs claimed all buses would be taken off the streets as the strike action would spread to other workers.

But Dublin Bus claimed it has not received any notification of industrial action and stressed it was available for talks.

Willie Noone, Siptu branch organiser, said: “I have no doubt this will involve every driver in Dublin Bus because once we put pickets on the garages, down through the years the culture has always been the drivers won’t pass other drivers’ pickets.”

Another union at Dublin Bus, the NBRU, said on Monday that it would hold a national one-day strike on Saturday, February 28th, the day of the Ireland-England Six Nations rugby international.

The NBRU plans to progress to a two-day stoppage on March 9th and 10th in protest at proposed cutbacks in the company as well as in Bus Éireann.

Siptu said its members at Dublin Bus had voted last week in favour of industrial action in circumstances where management implemented cost-cutting measures without adhering to agreed dispute resolution procedures.

The vice-president of Siptu’s Dublin Bus branch, John McCamley, said yesterday there were a number of drivers at the company who would be open to the offer of a redundancy package.

Dublin Bus last night described the proposed strike actions as “regrettable” but defended its cost-containment proposals. It also said it had not yet received official notification of any industrial action by the drivers’ unions.