Bus Éireann plans fast cost-savings over ‘precarious’ finances

Measures will include limits on overtime, recruitment and hiring in of private buses

Bus Éireann’s acting chief executive, Ray Hernan, has said  the company faced a “very uncertain future due to the precarious state of our finances and threat of insolvency”. Photograph: Eric Luke

Bus Éireann’s acting chief executive, Ray Hernan, has said the company faced a “very uncertain future due to the precarious state of our finances and threat of insolvency”. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

State-owned Bus Éireann is likely to examine premium payments and overtime rates for staff as part of the next phase of a review of its costs.

On Monday the company told staff it would immediately implement a series of cost-saving measures in a bid to tackle the precarious state of its finances. They include restrictions on overtime, recruitment and the hiring of buses from private operators.

The company is expected to write to trade unions seeking talks later this week or early next week on a second phase of an overall cost-containment plan. It is understood that some staff payments will be examined as part of this phase of the process.

A third phase is likely to involve an examination of routes the company may cease to operate in future. Bus Éireann has said that in such a scenario, rural communities “would not be left behind”.

Sources close to the company indicated the measures announced on Monday were covered by collective agreements already in place with unions, but which had not been implemented across the country for various reasons.

Under the measures, flexitime working arrangements in place for clerical staff will be terminated from the end of January. The standard working day for clerical staff will revert to Monday-Thursday 9am-5.15pm and Friday 9am-5pm. Carrying over leave into the following year will no longer be permitted.

Bus Éireann’s acting chief executive, Ray Hernan, told staff on Monday the company was “facing a very uncertain future due to the precarious state of our finances and threat of insolvency”.

Banned spending

As part of the measures to be put in place immediately, all nonessential/discretionary spending at the company will be banned.

A general ban on all unplanned and unrostered overtime, including rest-day working for all grades, is to be implemented.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) said its members at Bus Éireann would not co-operate with any changes to current terms and conditions or work practices “in the absence of an agreed forum being convened to discuss all the issues which have contributed to the crisis at its commercial inter-city Expressway service”.

The NBRU general secretary, Dermot O’Leary, said the awarding of licences by the National Transport Authority to private operators had led to an oversupply of seat capacity, and this was directly affecting the ability of Bus Éireann to continue to operate its Expressway services to rural Ireland.