Bus Éireann plan could spark major transport dispute

Bus and rail workers threaten action over firm’s ‘stomach-churning’ survival proposals

Bus Éireann’s acting chief executive Ray Hernan has said proposals to cut premium payments and overtime rates for staff represent ‘the only and best way to safeguard the maximum number of viable jobs’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Bus Éireann’s acting chief executive Ray Hernan has said proposals to cut premium payments and overtime rates for staff represent ‘the only and best way to safeguard the maximum number of viable jobs’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

and rail services in the State-owned transport sector over a radical survival plan for Bus Éireann.

Unions last night claimed that cuts to premium payments, overtime rates and other allowances proposed as part of the new management plan could lead to a 25 per cent reduction in earnings for staff.

However, the firm argued that its financial position was unsustainable and that, without decisive action to tackle its cost base and inefficiencies, it would go out of business.

The company has also signalled that its plan could involve redundancies or lay-offs. It also proposed that, in future, casual drivers and contractors could be used as cover for existing staff, while certain maintenance work could be contracted out.

It said that, in return for accepting the wide-ranging proposed restructuring package, staff would receive non-pensionable pay increases of up to 3 per cent per annum over a four-year deal.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) described the proposals as “stomach churning”. It said the proposed pay rises were insulting, given the level of overall cuts involved in the package. It said it would not accept the imposition of cuts to the pay of its members.

Infrastructure turmoil

He said while workers in Iarnród Éireann and Dublin Bus – which also form part of the CIE group – were not in dispute with their employers, some had indicated that they would not stand by if such cuts were imposed on their colleagues in Bus Éireann.

Siptu described the management proposals as “horrendous” and “unacceptable”. The union warned that it already had a mandate from its members in Bus Éireann for industrial action if the company sought to impose cuts.

Bus Éireann acting chief executive Ray Hernan said the new proposals represented “the only and best way to safeguard the maximum number of viable jobs and basic pay whilst ensuring Bus Éireann is efficient and competitive, providing value for money and premium services .

Free travel

He urged trade unions “to be responsible and accept these proposals for the sake of the future of Bus Éireann”.

Mr Hernan said Bus Éireann would be restructured at a pace and time that the company could afford, subject to a rigid cost benefit analysis.

He said there was no voluntary severance scheme open at this time adding that redeployment and reasonable changes to roles and responsibilities would be needed.

“Natural attrition and the completion of fixed-term contracts will be used as an opportunity to restructure. The company will seek to reduce/eliminate temporary staff.

“Where positions are to be made redundant, the company will endeavour to redeploy or achieve the required reductions on a voluntary basis in the first instance.”

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