Siptu to ballot for industrial action at Dublin Bus and Irish Rail

Action would be in solidarity with staff at Bus Eireann

 Siptu has said it will ballot members at Dublin Bus and Irish Rail for industrial action in solidarity with Bus Eireann staff. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Siptu has said it will ballot members at Dublin Bus and Irish Rail for industrial action in solidarity with Bus Eireann staff. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Tue, May 14, 2013, 17:06

The trade union Siptu is to ballot its members in Dublin Bus and Irish Rail for industrial action in solidarity with staff at Bus Eireann.

Siptu members at Bus Eireann are expected to back strike action over proposed cost-cutting measures at the State-own transport company in a ballot to be finalised on Thursday.

Members of the National Bus and Rail Union at the company staged a two-day strike over the cost containment plans earlier this week but this was suspended on Monday for 48 to allow for talks at the Labour Relations Commission.

Siptu, whose members did not pass pickets during the strike, also attended those talks at the Labour Relations Commission on Tuesday.

However the union also indicated that any resumption of the strike at Bus Eireann could spill over into Dublin Bus and Irish Rail, two other companies in the wider CIE group.

Siptu said that at a meeting of shop stewards from the CIE companies on Tuesday it was decided to ballot members in Dublin Bus and Irish Rail for industrial action in solidarity with their colleagues in Bus Éireann.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “ Workers across the three companies that make up the CIE Group share a concern about management attempts to cut staff pay and conditions of employment.

“On Thursday (16th May) a ballot for strike action by SIPTU members in Bus Éireann will be counted. All the indications are that this ballot will return an overwhelming vote in favour of strike action.

“In a show of solidarity with their colleagues in Bus Éireann, shop stewards at the other two CIE companies have requested permission to also ballot for industrial action. Our members are adamant that it is made clear to management that any attempt to enforce cuts on workers in Dublin Bus and Irish Rail will be resisted.”

He said that workers at the CIE group of companies shared a deep concern in ensuring the future viability was secured.

“However, cuts which only focus on reducing the pay and conditions of employment of workers while seeking no similar contribution from highly paid management grades will not be accepted.”

Meanwhile the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said he asked management at Bus Eireann to hold off on unilaterally implementing cost-saving plans several weeks ago so as not to disrupt sensitive talks with public service unions on a second Croke Park agreement.

Speaking on Tuesday he said he was hopeful that unions and management could reach a solution to the deteriorating financial position at the company at talks underway at the Labour Relations Commission.

He said he welcomed the resumption of Bus Eireann services following the strike which disrupted the travel plans of around 80,000 passengers on Sunday and Monday.

Mr Varadkar said: “I welcome the fact that intensive negotiations are now underway between the unions and the company, and more particularly I welcome the fact that all bus services are now operating today as normal.”

“It is the third time now on which the Labour Relations Commission has intervened in this dispute, which is now going on for over a year. And for a year the financial position of Bus Eireann has continued to worsen. That’s why it’s very important that we have an agreement on this occasion and that it’s a lasting agreement that delivers savings which are necessary, as that’s the only way that we can protect services for passengers and protect the jobs of the workers at Bus Eireann and it’s the only way that we can protect the long term viability of Bus Eireann as a company. I think they are three objectives that everyone shares.”

Mr Varadkar denied suggestions made by unions that the Government had instructed the company to unilaterally implement a controversial Labour Court recommendation aimed at generating cost savings of €5 million last weekend to influence talks with public service unions on reducing the public service pay bill.

“That’s not correct. I didn’t issue any instructions to the company. The only instructions in fact I made were some weeks ago where I asked the company to hold off on implementation while there were sensitive talks underway under Croke Park so it’s not the case that I made any instruction to the company in recent weeks. I’m the Minister for Transport but Bus Eireann is a company in its own right. It has its own board, its own chief executive, and they are the ones who run the company. And they have my full support in the efforts that they are making to save the company. “