Bus Éireann letter proposes cuts to drivers’ overtime

Company seeks €5m a year in savings and to avert threatened all-out strike action

Bus Éireann wants to reduce drivers’ overtime by an average  three hours a week. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Bus Éireann wants to reduce drivers’ overtime by an average three hours a week. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Bus Éireann is proposing to reduce overtime for its drivers by an average of three hours a week to generate savings of €5 million a year, in a bid to secure its survival and avoid a threatened all-out indefinite strike by workers.

The overtime proposal is contained in a letter sent by the company to officials at the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu on Thursday.

The company lost more than €9 million last year and recorded a deficit of €1.5 million in January this year. It has said it is due to be insolvent by May.

However, unions at the company have threatened to strike if the company takes unilateral action on workers’ pay and conditions as a result of the firm’s financial crisis.

“The drivers’ grade is by far the largest group within Bus Éireann and this is where most efficiency savings can be identified, and these must be implemented,” the company’s letter said.

“Inefficiencies have resulted in unnecessary overtime and staff employed who are now surplus to our business requirements.

“Our request of the trade unions is that they embrace and commit to all improved efficiencies.

Commitments

Bus Éireann said that if the unions were willing to accept these conditions, the company was prepared to make commitments in respect of drivers’ terms and conditions and to re-engage in negotiations at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

In response to Bus Éireann’s letter, NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary reiterated his union’s “willingness to engage on an efficiency agenda across all grades” at the company.

“We remain firmly of the view that all stakeholders will require to be involved in any overarching sustainable solution,” he said.

“We now reaffirm this commitment. We will not, however, be dragged into a series of negotiations through the exchanging of correspondence.

Mr O’Leary said any decision in relation to further discussions with the company would be left to the WRC.

Meanwhile, Siptu transport sector organiser Willie Noone said Bus Éireann was engaged in a “stalling exercise”.

He said the proposal to cut driver overtime by an average of three hours would be “inequitable”, as some drivers do more overtime than others.

“By doing that, some people would be down more than others,” he said.