Bus Éireann strike called off for 48 hours

NBRU lifts pickets and all main services resume after negotiations at LRC

 

The strike at Bus Éireann was suspended for 48 hours last night to allow talks at the Labour Relations Commission to continue.

Pickets by members of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) have been lifted and services have  resumed with immediate effect.

All commuter services in the greater Dublin area are operating, as are all  inter-city services from the capital, the company said. It said all school transport services and all routes in  Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Sligo, Mayo, Donegal, Athlone, Cavan, Monaghan, Clare and Kerry are operating normally. The company has advised intending passengers to check its website at buseireann.ie for further details.
 
The strike has crippled the bus company’s services since midnight on Sunday, with commuters and tourists badly hit. Talks between unions and the company began yesterday evening.
 
The dispute is over moves by management to unilaterally implement a Labour Courtrecommendation aimed at generating savings of €5 million in the loss-making State-owned transport company.

Bus Éireann has more than 2,000 staff, about half of whom belong to the NBRU. Others who are members of Siptu and the Transport Salaries Staff Association did not pass the pickets.

In a statement, Minister for Public Transport Alan Kelly said he welcomed the breakthrough in the LRC negotiations.

“We would all like to see services resume as quickly as possible and that the 48 hour window that has been created as a result of discussion can yield a longer-term solution. This has been and continues to be a very difficult dispute for all sides,” he said. “The coming days can be used to make sure the company remains viable and that the transport services it provides are retained for the passengers that depend on them.”

The NBRU had said it would be prepared to lift the pickets as a precursor to ongoing talks so long as those negotiations appeared constructive. 

The Labour Relations Commission (LRC) had called in both Bus Éireann management and unions, Siptu and the NBRU for talks at 8pm last night without preconditions as the strike was about to enter its third day.

Speaking beforehand, NBRU general secretary Michael Faherty said the strike could be halted if there was consensus and if negotiations on the ongoing dispute promised to be constructive.

“If there is agreement among all the parties that they are prepared to sit down to discuss in a constructive way the issues that are there, of course we will lift them,” he said. “What we hope for is that a basis can be found for resumption of constructive and proper negotiations.”

“It’s a very difficult situation that we are in. We have Labour Court recommendations that give us huge problems, turned down by 82 per cent of the membership, so to turn that around won’t be easy.”

Joe Kenny, human resources manager at Bus Eireann welcomed the opportunity to engage “positively and constructively”.

“And we hope that for our customers' sake - we would like to apologise again - but we would hope that we would bring a speedily resolution to this dispute,” he said.

Tensions in the two day old dispute escalated earlier when striking bus workers refused to allow a bus operated by GoBe.ie to leave from Merchants Quay in Cork.

GoBe.ie operates non-stop buses between Dublin and Cork and is a joint venture between Bus Éireann and private company GoBe.

A Bus Éireann spokeswoman described the obstructions as “unwarranted and unjustified and caused inconvenience to our customers”.

GoBe.ie cancelled its 4.30pm and 6.30pm Cork to Dublin services and its 8pm, 10pm and midnight Dublin to Cork Services.

“We sincerely apologise for this change in service,however the safety of both our customers and drivers is paramount,” the company said on Twitter.

 

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