Bus Éireann viability at risk, Tánaiste warns in State transport company strike row

€3,000 cut in salary of €33,000 unsustainable, says Fianna Fáil spokesman

 Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore:  “What is at stake is the continued existence of Bus Eireann”.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: “What is at stake is the continued existence of Bus Eireann”.

Fri, May 10, 2013, 01:00

The future viability of Bus Éireann is at risk, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has warned the Dáil as he urged unions and management to engage in talks to avoid industrial action at the State transport company.

Mr Gilmore stressed “we do all need to understand what is at stake here is the continued existence of Bus Éireann”.

He was speaking before the outcome of the ballot yesterday afternoon by members of the National Bus and Rail Union. They voted to reject the Labour Court €5 million pay cut recommendations, which the company said it would implement.

Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Timmy Dooley said the cuts were “unsustainable” and workers at the company on €33,000 a year were being asked to take a “phenomenal” cut of €3,000 from their core pay.

The Clare TD said they all knew Fine Gael’s position, which was “to look after the people on over €100,000. I would have thought the Labour Party in Government would look after those on €30,000 a year but you seem to have bought the company’s line”.

‘Increased subvention’
He said the Tánaiste should “go back and fight the case at Government for increased subvention”, for a greater level of investment.

Mr Gilmore insisted the Government was committed to the public transport service “and that is why we want to keep Bus Éireann in existence.

“The viability of Bus Éireann is at risk,” the Tánaiste warned. “It has lost €27 million in the last five years and that cannot continue. And if Bus Éireann does not continue to exist then the people who work in it won’t have jobs in it.”

The issue “has been the subject of discussion for 11 months. It is now subject of a Labour Court recommendation. The company is implementing the Labour Court’s recommendation.” He said it was now about the viability of the company. “We have a period of time between now and the weekend in which further discussions can take place.” He hoped such discussions would take place and that industrial action could be averted. But he reiterated that the continued existence of Bus Éireann was at stake and he told Mr Dooley “you coming in here and crying crocodile tears will be no use to anybody if this company fails and the people in it lose their jobs”.

United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly called on the Tánaiste to explain his party’s “journey on to the side of Ibec”, the employers’ group. She asked him “what planet you’re living on”, when low paid workers who had already lost 22 per cent, were now being asked to take a further cut.

He said Ms Daly was asking “do I support low-paid workers taking a further cut. No I don’t, that is why the agreement proposed to trade union workers does not propose pay cuts.”