Bus unions urge changes over fears of route privatisation

Siptu and NBRU hold ‘frank’ talks with Department of Transport and NTA on issues

Earlier this year, staff at the two State-owned bus companies, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann,  went on strike on foot of a decision by the National Transport Authority to put 10 per cent of existing services out to tender. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Earlier this year, staff at the two State-owned bus companies, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann, went on strike on foot of a decision by the National Transport Authority to put 10 per cent of existing services out to tender. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Unions representing workers in Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus are pressing the Government to change legislation which they fear could lead to privatisation of routes in the future.

Officials of Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) on Thursday held what were described as “useful” and “frank” talks with the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority (NTA) on the issue.

Earlier this year, staff at the two State-owned bus companies went on strike on foot of a decision by the NTA to put 10 per cent of existing services out to tender.

However unions are concerned that existing legislation could force the NTA to put out to tender potentially all other routes operated by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann in 2019.

‘Economic interest’

Siptu divisional organiser Owen Reidy said his members were concerned that under existing legislation the NTA could be compelled to move away from directly awarding contracts to State companies to operate their existing routes in 2019 “unless it was in the economic interest”.

“We find this crazy. No one should have their hands restrained in such a way,” he said.

“Imagine trying to tender 90 per cent of bus routes in this city. That would be madness and it is not needed.”

Mr Reidy said Siptu had articulated its concerns at the meeting with the Department of Transport and the NTA.

Union’s concerns

He said he hoped the union’s concerns were listened to, as this would be the best way to avoid further industrial relations unrest in 2016.

He said the Department of Transport had said it would consider the union’s views and revert to it before the end of the year.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said the existing legislation was “flawed”.

“The wording of the legislation needs to be looked at. We need some comfort either through legislation or commitments that would stand up a legal challenge.”

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