Varadkar says strike should be called off
Minister says dispute counter-productive
Bus drivers strike outside Dublin Bus’s Conyngham Road Garage in Dublin city. Pickets have been placed on all Dublin bus garages in the city. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Speaking yesterday he said the dispute was hitting people in Dublin who had no alternative to public transport.
He said if the strike continued it could jeopardise the jobs of people who did not have the employment security of those working in Dublin Bus.
The Minister told RTÉ’s This Week programme that the strike was also exacerbating the company’s financial difficulties. He said that none of the routes operated by Dublin Bus made money “even those that should be profitable”.
Mr Varadkar said that passengers using Dublin Bus services had faced significant fare hikes but that there had been no payroll savings at the company.
Earlier, in a statement, he had said public transport “should be run in the interests of the passengers who use it and the taxpayers who pay for it, and not in the interests of management or unions.
“I regret this strike action by staff at Dublin Bus. This action targets those who have no other alternative to public transport and exacerbates the financial position in Dublin Bus. I urge the trade unions to reconsider their position and call off this action. Both sides should do everything to agree the necessary savings in order to protect existing service levels.
“If there is a better way to achieve the level of savings required to secure the future of Dublin Bus, then these need to be tabled and discussed as soon as possible so the public can use the transport service in Dublin.”
Fianna Fáil spokesman on transport Timmy Dooley accused the Government of “standing idly by and doing nothing to avert the strike at Dublin Bus.
“Today’s dispute is a damning indictment of a senior Minister, in Leo Varadkar, who seems determined to weaken the hand of workers and pursue a privatisation agenda and a junior Minister, in Alan Kelly, who has shown no interest in averting this strike action and standing by Dublin Bus workers and passengers.
“I believe this action was entirely avoidable and will be resolved in the days ahead but the stunning lack of leadership on the part of Ministers Varadkar and Kelly is extremely significant. Their hands-off approach has the potential to lead to further disruption in the public transport network with strike action now hanging over Irish Rail. ”
A spokeswoman for Dublin Bus said that if there was an intervention in the dispute the company would engage positively but that any talks would have to be “meaningful and constructive”.
Speaking in response to the Ministers’ call for dialogue, Dermot O’Leary, assistant general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union, said Mr Varadkar was “ in the position to use his good offices to effect some sort of action.
“The best he could do in the circumstances is back up his statement with some actions.”