Ministers say ‘no basis’ for more talks on Dublin Bus row

Siptu to ballot members on industrial action next week over cost-saving measures

Management at Dublin Bus is expected to announce today the date for the implementation of a controversial cost-containment plan for the company. Photograph: The Irish Times

Management at Dublin Bus is expected to announce today the date for the implementation of a controversial cost-containment plan for the company. Photograph: The Irish Times

Wed, Oct 30, 2013, 19:15

The Government has said it will stand by Dublin Bus in the event of a further strike over a controversial cost-saving programme.

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar and the Minister of State for Public Transport Alan Kelly said the Cabinet had agreed today that there was “no basis for further negotiations or interventions as all avenues have been exhausted”.

Dublin Bus is to implement a controversial cost-containment plan at the company from Sunday November 17th - a move which could trigger confrontation with drivers represented by the trade union Siptu.

Drivers who are represented by Siptu voted narrowly last week, by a margin of 51 per cent to 49 per cent, to reject the latest proposals put forward aimed at generating savings of around €11 million.

Siptu is to re-ballot its driver members at Dublin Bus next week on industrial action in relation to the cost-cutting plan.

Mr Varadkar said he had briefed the Cabinet on the need to deliver savings under the cost recovery plan “ to safeguard the future of Dublin Bus, and the jobs and services it provides”.

The statement issued Mr Varadkar and Mr Kelly said: “The Government is fully supportive of Dublin Bus and will stand by the company in the event of industrial action. Any strike will be prolonged and costly for all sides. Both Ministers still hope that it can be avoided.”

Both Ministers called on Siptu “to join with all the other grades in accepting the overall outcome of the vote and the views of the staff as a whole, as the latest proposals have been accepted by a clear majority of the drivers in the company, and a clear majority of the staff represented by all unions.”

The Ministers urged the drivers represented by Siptu at the company not to vote for strike action in their ballot next week.

Dublin Bus said that further industrial action would be totally unnecessary “given that the majority of employees have accepted the cost recovery plan”.

“ It would severely damage the company’s reputation and lead to increased financial losses.”

Staff at Dublin bus engaged in a three-day strike in August in protest at plans by management at that stage to implement unilaterally a cost-containment plan.

Siptu is in a difficult position at present as other non-driving grades which it represents at the State-owned tranport company, have already voted to accept the cost-containment plan.

Other drivers at Dublin Bus, who are represented by the National Bus and Rail Union have also agreed to acccept the cost-saving plan.

Siptu represents around half of the 2,300 drivers at the State-owned transport company.

Siptu told members that while it already had a mandate for industrial action arising from an earlier ballot, its traffic representative committee had decided to hold a further ballot to re-affirm this “due to the changed and serious nature of the circumstances that are now in existence”.