Bus Éireann staff could strike over pay rise row, union warns

NBRU general secretary says employees have not had wage increase in more than 10 years

Bus Éireann staff may strike in a dispute over pay, the NBRU has warned. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times/File

Bus Éireann staff may strike in a dispute over pay, the NBRU has warned. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times/File

 

There could be disruption to Bus Éireann services in the future unless staff at the State-owned transport company receive a pay rise, a trade union has warned.

Management and unions at Bus Éireann are holding talks over pay at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) amid a threat of industrial action if the dispute is not resolved.

Staff at the company staged a three-week strike last year over controversial cost -containment plans put forward by management at a time when Bus Éireann was facing serious financial difficulties.

Unions contend that the company’s fortunes have since improved and are seeking increases along the lines of those secured by other transport workers in recent years, which ranged from 2.5 per cent to 3.75 per cent annually.

The general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) Dermot O’Leary said staff at Bus Éireann had not had a pay rise in more than 10 years.

“They have observed colleagues in the Dublin Bus, Iarnród Éireann, the CIE Group, Luas and workers across the economy gain improvements to pay over the last two years. It is long since passed time that those workers that have put their shoulder to the wheel and helped to correct the ills of their company were given material recognition by way of a long overdue pay rise,” he said.

“Our members, having witnessed the apathy of Government towards Bus Éireann customers during last years dispute, have no desire to revisit those dark days and discommode their customers.”

Ballot

Mr O’Leary said his preferred option was for a solution to be found at the WRC but that “anything less will inevitably lead to our members and staff across Bus Éireann demanding a ballot for industrial action” similar to that taken by workers in other companies in the public transport sector.

He said staff at the firm had engaged in a difficult three-week dispute last year on the back of a contention by management, supported by Government, that the very survival of the company was at stake.

Siptu transport sector organiser John Murphy said Bus Éireann had been starved of resources and that the Government should release funding to the company. He said the union hoped to engage positively with management but industrial action remained a clear possibility if it could nothing could be secured for members.

Mr Murphy said drivers , particularly on the Expressway services, were working 13 or 14 hours a day and coming home with less money than they were before the survival plan was implemented last year.

He did not think these drivers would be prepared to offer more efficiency measures. “They believe it would be death by a thousand cuts if they were to keep making sacrifices and keep lessening their terms and conditions.”

Bus Éireann said while a recovery was beginning to take effect at the company, its financial outlook remained uncertain.

“The Labour Court agreement 2017 states that ‘any review should focus on balancing the legitimate expectations of the staff of Bus Éireann, and the legitimate and necessary objective of company viability, sustainability and growth’.”

The company said it would no further comment while the talks process was continuing.