Varadkar says staff must help deal with finances at Bus Éireann
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said Bus Éireann staff will have to make a contribution towards dealing with the financial situation at the company. His comments came as Bus Éireann passengers face the possibility of industrial action from the weekend in a dispute over management proposals to implement unilaterally a controversial recovery plan.
Members of two unions at the company, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and the TSSA, yesterday voted by large margins to take industrial action if management proceeded to implement cuts to pay and employment conditions as part of the plan from next weekend.
Siptu is scheduled to announce the results of its ballot tomorrow. It has warned that industrial action could spread to other companies in the CIÉ group such as Dublin Bus and Iaranród Éireann.
In a statement following the NBRU and TSSA ballot results, Mr Varadkar said: “At this stage it remains a matter for Bus Éireann and the unions. However, I think it is regrettable that the unions have refused to go to the Labour Court as the financial situation for all the CIÉ companies is very difficult. Fares have risen, CIÉ has had to sell assets, and the Government has provided an additional subvention to CIÉ. Bus Éireann staff will also have to make a contribution.”
The general secretary of the NBRU, Michael Faherty, said 92 per cent of members voted in favour of industrial action.
Among the measures which the company is planning to implement are a reduction of overtime rates from 1.5 times to 1.25 times; an increase in the working week for clerical and executive staff from 36 hours to 39 hours; cuts in shift, premium and rota payments; the curtailing of annual leave entitlement by three days for three years (2013-2015); and a scaling back of a range of allowance and expense payments by a third.
The NBRU, which represents 1,100 of the 2,500 Bus Éireann staff, has maintained that members could lose €60-€70 per week under the plan.
The white collar TSSA union said 73 per cent of members who took part in the ballot voted for industrial action.
A spokesman for Bus Éireann warned that in the event of industrial action, which led to a deterioration in the company’s financial position, the issue of core pay and employment levels would have to be looked at.
The spokesman said that Bus Éireann was still planning to implement its recovery plan from next weekend.