Travel chaos as Bus Éireann strike knocks out services

Ministers call on bus divers to enter talks as up to 50,000 passengers are left stranded

Sun, May 12, 2013, 17:29

Government ministers have called on striking bus drivers to enter talks as up to 95 per cent of services had to be axed. Up to 50,000 passengers were left facing travel chaos when Bus Éireann cancelled routes across the country as members of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) picketed depots.

Further disruption was caused when workers with other unions refused to pass picket lines, the company added. Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said the industrial action and disruption to Bus Éireann passengers is deeply regrettable. “The unions should immediately engage with the company in talks to bring this matter to resolution,” he said. “My understanding is that the company is available to engage with the unions, and has been available for many days. “We must all work together to save Bus Eireann services and jobs. There is no time to lose.”

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the strike action is not good enough and needs to be resolved. “I think the strike is not good for the travelling public who are inconvenienced by it,” said the Labour Party leader at the annual commemoration at Arbour Hill. “It’s not good for the company, which is already in financial difficulties, and of course it’s not good for the employees who are losing money as a consequence of the strike. “All strikes, all disputes, are ultimately resolved in discussion and negotiation and the sooner that that happens, the better.”

Both sides had maintained they were available for talks in recent days, but no contact was made between the parties.

The rolling strike action, which began this morning, centres on the implementation of a €5 million cost-cutting plan and is expected to cost the firm €200,000 a day. It is affecting rural and inter city bus passengers nationwide, with scores of tourists being turned away from depots and directed towards rail services or private coach companies.

Bus Éireann said 95 per cent of services have been cancelled, with limited journeys between Dublin and Belfast, Donegal, Derry, Cork and in the north-west. It advised customers to visit for updates. “

Bus Éireann apologises for any inconvenience caused due to this industrial action,” a spokesman said. Michael Faherty, NBRU general secretary, claimed the bus firm had forced the action by implementing a cost-cutting plan which he described as a breach of contract of employment.

But the company said the action was unofficial and illegal and maintained it has not received any credible and viable alternatives from the trade unions that will provide the same level of savings needed to keep staffing and service levels.

The proposals, which were backed by the Labour Court, included a 20 per cent cut to a range of allowance and expense payments, a reduction of overtime rates, longer working hours and a cut in shift payments.

The Government has also warned the state-subsidised bus firm lost €27 million over the last five years and would not be financially viable if it does not impose cuts.

The Socialist Party had called on members of Siptu and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), which will both know the result of similar ballots on Thursday, to join in solidarity by not crossing the picket lines.

Elsewhere Sinn Fein workers’ rights spokesperson David Cullinane urged both sides to return to the negotiations table. TSSA leader Manuel Cortes claimed ministers have badly misread public opinion in the escalating dispute. “The workforce at Bus Éireann are saying enough is enough,” he said at the union’s annual conference in Glasgow, where delegates voted overwhelmingly to back TSSA members who faced disciplinary action for refusing to cross picket lines.

“After six years of the working people of Ireland picking up the tab for the bankers and politicians who failed them, they are saying they are not going to carry this burden alone. “The public recognise this is part of a bigger picture and that is why they are not blaming us for the disruption to services.”

List of disrupted services:

Route 1 Dublin-Belfast No Bus Éireann services operating. Translink services are operating. Translink services are at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 18:00, 19:00, 20:00, 21:00 and 22:00 EX Dublin. Services Ex Dublin will operate from Custom House Quay.

Route 2 Wexford- Dublin and Route 4 Dungarvan-Dublin are currently not operating.

Route 5 Dublin-Waterford services are currently not operating

Route 7 Dublin-Clonmel services are currently not operating

Route 8 Dublin-Cork services are currently not operating

Route 12 Dublin-Limerick no services operating

Route 22 Dublin-Ballina no services operating

Route 23 Dublin-Sligo no services operating

Route 30 Dublin-Donegal no services operating

Route 32 Dublin-Letterkenny no services operating

Route 33 Dublin-Derry no Bus Éireann services operating. Translink services are operating. Translink services at 10:00, 13:00, 17:300 and 22:00. Services from Dublin will operate from Custom House Quay.

GOBE – Dublin Airport-Cork

All services expected to operate with services operating from Dublin city centre will pick up at Georges Quay.

100 Drogheda-Newry not operating

100X Dublin-Dundalk not operating

103/105 Dublin-Ashbourne-Ratoath not operating

101 Dublin-Drogheda not operating

109 Dublin-Cavan not operating

109A DCU-Kells not operating

111 Dublin-Athboy-Cavan not operating

115 Dublin-Mullingar not operating

120 Dublin-Edenderry not operating

126 Dublin-Newbridge-Kildare not operating

133 Dublin-Wicklow not operating

177 Dublin – Monaghan not operating

188 Drogheda-Trim not operating

190 Drogheda-Laytown not operating

No services across inter-city, city, suburban or provincial services are currently operating in Cork.