Simmering Vinny saddened as busses stay put
Clontarf bus man’s mind troubled by the rows of tethered buses
Scene of Vinny’s dismay as Dublin busses are left in the garages in Dublin (not actually Vinny in photograph). Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times
Armed with a placard, upon which was written, SIPTU Official Dispute, Vinny Fitzpatrick found himself shuffling along in a monastic hush, with a handful of colleagues on the Clontarf Road, just as the sun squinted above the Bull Island.
The first shift for striking Dublin Bus workers had begun at six bells on the Bank Holiday Monday morning. The crew included the longest-serving Clontarf driver, who readily volunteered for the dawn patrol.
After the jarring events of the previous fortnight, Vinny felt the gentle sea breeze would help unclog his little grey cells and focus on more pressing matters.
By rights, he should be dreaming of Sam Maguire returning to Dublin’s needy embrace but instead, his mind was troubled – by the rows upon rows of tethered buses in the garages across the city, the empty roads and signs on bus stops proclaiming that ‘Dublin Bus services are not in operation.’
How had it all come to this, he thought to himself? How had the management and unions become so entrenched, so distant from one another, that they dared to leave Dublin’s streets shorn of their noble chargers?
What would become of Mr and Mrs Sean Citizen in the morning when they left their homes for work and found themselves having to pay through the nose for taxis or walking for miles? And what were the stranded tourists making of the shenanigans?
Pretty quick, they’d all have it in the neck for Dublin Bus drivers, reckoned Vinny, no matter what SIPTU spiel was spun.
Folk didn’t give a fig about drivers losing a slice of their Bank Holiday premium payments and over-time, or whether their management overlords accepted pay cuts of five per cent, thought Vinny.
All they wanted was their buses to turn up, on time, and transport them to where they had to be.
Such a simplistic view, Vinny knew, would fall on deaf ears in Dublin Bus, where some of the chest-beating union agitators felt they were Jim Larkin reincarnated.
Couldn’t they cop on that this was 2013, not 1913? And the days of the brother-workers-in-arms were with Mick O’Leary in the grave?
Vinny reckoned the only union with any clout these days was the Irish Rugby Football Union and even they weren’t quite as well off as before. The world was spinning at a slower pace, there was less money to go around, and it was time everyone caught themselves on.
Vinny recalled a regular in Foley’s, Inky Potts, who used to work as a sub-editor for a national newspaper in the city. Inky would regale the lads about his four-day week, seven-hour day, €300 bonus for working on a Bank Holiday, six weeks annual holidays, taxis home after 11pm and expenses.
Now Inky was saddled with a five-day week, nine-hour shifts; he got diddly squat for Bank Holidays and had a week’s less holidays. Was he out on the streets protesting? No, he was keeping his head down, chuffed just to have a job.