Bus union urges Labour Court rejection

One of the main unions at Bus Eireann is urging its members to reject Labour Court proposals on a recovery programme for the company.

One of the main unions at Bus Eireann is urging its members to reject Labour Court proposals on a recovery programme for the company.

Sat, Feb 16, 2013, 00:00

One of the main unions at Bus Éireann is urging its members to reject Labour Court proposals on a recovery programme for the company.

The Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSSA) said the 200 clerical and managerial staff which it represents at Bus Éireann were being asked "to give up too much" under the Labour Court proposals which emerged just over a week ago.

The Labour Court proposals involved increased hours for staff as well as cuts to allowances and overtime and reductions in annual leave.

Jim Kavanagh,the TSSA Irish organiser, said the increase in hours and cuts to annual leave amounted to an additional five weeks work a year without pay.

He said a pay freeze until 2017 "would add up to nine year pay freeze overall for all staff and those on overtime would see an immediate wage cut".

"Attacking your terms and conditions so you work longer but get paid less is totally unfair and unjustifiable, particularly when household budgets are being squeezed to breaking point," he said in a letter to members urging a no vote.

He accused management at the company of "softening up staff for the future privatisation of Bus Éireann. TSSA members at the company are currrently balloting on the Labour Court proposals.

The Labour Court finding is being watched carefully be participants in the current talks on extending the Croke Park agreement. Proposals put forward by management in the Croke Park talks are similar in many ways to the cuts set out by Bus Éireann.

The court said it was satisfied Bus Éireann was experiencing serious financial difficulties that had the potential to undermine its continued viability. It said it was further satisfied that significant reduction in its operating costs, including payroll, were essential to address the company’s difficulties.

However, it said the changes to terms and conditions that it recommended should only apply until the company returned to a “reasonable and sustainable” level of profitability.

It said the situation should be reviewed at the end of 2014 and every year subsequently.

The intervention of the Labour Court averted a potential strike in protest at plans by management to implement a recovery plan unilaterally.

The company argued it needed to reduce its cost base significantly and proposed saving around €7.6 million by changing existing terms and conditions.

The Labour Court recommended the first two hours of overtime in any day be reduced from 1.5 times to 1.25 times and that it should be paid at 1.5 times thereafter.

It said overtime for Sunday work, which is currently paid at double time, should be cut to 1.5 times. It said there should be no change to the double-time bonus for staff rostered for normal duty on a Sunday.

The court said public holidays should be paid at 1.25 times in addition to statutory entitlements, while overtime for public holidays, which was paid at double time, should be paid at 1.25 times for the first for the first two hours and 1.5 times thereafter.

It also said that shift payments of one-sixth should be reduced to one-seventh.

The Labour Court said that the number of self-certified sick leave days should be reduced from four to two per year.