Ross to come under pressure in Dáil over Bus Éireann crisis

Unions warn of industrial action if company imposes cuts without agreement

Minister for Transport Shane Ross: has insisted he will not personally become involved in the Bus Éireann crisis and it is a matter for unions and management to resolve.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister for Transport Shane Ross: has insisted he will not personally become involved in the Bus Éireann crisis and it is a matter for unions and management to resolve. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Minister for Transport Shane Ross will come under pressure in the Dáil next week to intervene in the crisis threatening the future of the State-owned transport company Bus Éireann.

Fianna Fáil is to table a private members motion calling on the Government to ensure no routes are cut and that there are no changes to the loss-making Expressway interurban coach services. The motion will also call for restructuring plans to be agreed with workers and not imposed on staff.

The company warned earlier this week that losses for last year could reach €9 million and that without drastic action it would go out of business by the end of the year.

Bus Éireann last week put forward a radical survival plan which included redundancies, significant cuts in earnings for staff and the introduction of outsourcing and casualisation. Trade unions have vowed to resist such measures.

Mr Ross has insisted he will not personally become involved in the issue and that it is a matter for unions and management to resolve.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Thursday defended the Minister for Transport, insisting he had not been in hiding.

Mr Kenny also said the dispute needed to be resolved between unions and management.

Unions representing the 2,600 staff at Bus Éireann said on Thursday that there would be no immediate move towards strike action over the controversial management proposals. However unions warned they would take industrial action in the event of management unilaterally imposing proposed cuts.

‘Measured approach’

They again urged Mr Ross to establish a forum of all stakeholders, without preconditions, aimed at resolving the financial crisis in the State-owned transport company.

The general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union, Dermot O’Leary, said unions, at a meeting to consider strategy on Thursday, had decided to adopt “a measured approach”.

“If the company moves ahead and imposes cuts, it will trigger industrial action but we are very mindful that there are people in rural Ireland, in particular, who are relying on their bus service. We would be very conscious of those vital services before making any decisions in terms of what any industrial action would be.”

Siptu transport sector organiser Greg Ennis said it was not sustainable for Mr Ross to maintain his position that it is up to management and unions to find a resolution to the crisis at Bus Éireann.

“There is an industrial dispute looming which is caused by policy of the Government, and the Minister needs to get involved.”

The Taoiseach said: “Minister Ross has been quite articulate also, if the Expressway services were to be redefined or readjusted, the National Transport Authority would step in to ensure that areas of the country that are serviced by Expressway in smaller towns and villages, that a service will be enabled.

“He is not hiding here, this is a matter that needs to be dealt with by unions and I would encourage them to use the facilities of the State to do that.”